3/3/2010 10:07:00 AM How suite it is: Comfort Suites earns award in first year
General Manager J.L. Jernegan, at right, and Director of Sales Gavin Giesecke relax for a moment in the breakfast area of the Comfort Suites hotel overlooking Prescott Valley.
Comfort Suites opened in Prescott Valley just before Christmas in 2008. Already it ranks ninth out of 529 franchises by the guest satisfaction index, qualifying it for a "Platinum" rating from Choice Hotels.
The index, from guest surveys, takes into account such as a patron's likelihood of returning, room cleanliness, and friendliness of staff.
General Manager J.L. Jernegan said the parent corporation awards platinum, gold, or silver status in November to the top 15 franchises if the hotels maintain their standards until then.
The 100-suite, four-floor hotel is non-smoking and pet friendly, with amenities including a pool and hot tub, fitness room, breakfast buffet and business center.
It also has a 1,200-square-foot meeting room that can accommodate 100 people and be divided into two sections.
"There are times when I wish it was larger," said Gavin Giesecke, director of sales. "We're in the 'make you happy' business."
The hotel offers packages with local restaurants Rustica and Garcia's, as well as shopping packages that include a $25 VISA gift card.
"We are out to build relationships with people," Giesecke said. "We want to be your home away from home."
Jernegan and Giesecke have partnered in several local hotel ventures over the years. They worked together at the Hassayampa in the 1990s and the Holiday Inn Express in early 2000, then the Quality Inn before opening the Comfort Suites.
"We concentrated on underperformers and older properties," Jernegan said. "This is the first new-built."
What's the difference?
"New is nice but it has its own separate set of challenges, especially warranty issues," Jernegan replied. "But new is a great marketing tool."
"It's very satisfying to see it all come together from a construction zone," Giesecke added.
They both helped with finishing touches - everything from hanging mirrors to drilling holes to vacuuming drywall dust.
"It was everybody all together doing what it takes to open," Jernegan said of the hotel's 20-member staff. "Now we're seeing our sales efforts come to pass."
Jernegan noted that the economy still was good when they checked demographics and put together a budget. Things were too far along to stop when the economy tanked.
Even so, they've been filling rooms, especially with all the recent state high school winter sports events at Tim's Toyota Center.
"Looking back, if I could have a 'do-over' I would," Jernegan said of the timing. "But that makes our success even more gratifying."