Microtel buys airport-area plot for hotel venture
By Mindy Hagen
A parcel of land at Northwest 36th Street and 58th Avenue recently purchased for $1.85 million by a South American developer is to become the site of a 160-room Microtel Inn & Suites, the chain's first venture into Miami-Dade County.
A budget and economy hotel, Microtel has opened eight buildings in Florida since forming in 1995, with 15 others under construction or development. Operated by US Franchise Systems Inc., an Atlanta-based service industry franchising company, Microtel has more than 250 hotels nationally.
Steve Romaniello, president and CEO of US Franchise Systems, said the company is excited to tap into the Miami market.
"The entry into South Florida is an absolutely extraordinary event for us," Mr. Romaniello said. "Miami is a highly visible lodging market that is very diverse in regards to demand for hotel rooms. It is important for any hotel company to have a presence in Miami and in Florida."
Alex Correa, president of All Hotels Ltd., said he bought the 2 acres of land because he wanted to develop a site near the airport with an open restaurant. Cisco's Cafe, serving Mexican food, is also part of the purchased property.
Mr. Correa said his company, developers of 10 hotels with 12,000 combined rooms in Colombia and Ecuador, wanted to expand to a city that does business with Latin America. All Hotels is looking to build two more properties near the airport and is expanding next year to Orlando.
"We are very confident that Miami is the natural entry into the Florida hotel market for us," Mr. Correa said. "Miami is one of the most international cities in the US. A lot of our customers from South America will be interested in this hotel."
Scheduled for groundbreaking next summer, Mr. Correa said the hotel would be completed by spring 2003. He said he also plans on leaving Cisco's Cafe intact, allowing the hotel's customers to have a restaurant within walking distance.
"The hotel can benefit from the restaurant and the restaurant can benefit from the hotel," he said. "The hotel only has a limited continental breakfast, so customers can go to Cisco's for good quality food and service."
Although plans for the building are incomplete, Art Walker, president of the Doral Airport West Chamber of Commerce, said the rooms would be a welcome addition.
"We are not downtown Miami or the beaches, so a 160-room hotel is a big property to us," Mr. Walker said. "This shows the faith hotel owners continue to have in the growth of the Doral area."
Mr. Walker said the international appeal of the airport allows the area to attract tourists from Latin America, the market Mr. Correa covets.
"Although other areas claim to be the capital of Latin America, we probably are," Mr. Walker said. "Our hotels are running at capacity. This can only help give people from overseas a place to stay."
The Doral Airport West Chamber of Commerce, which has grown from less than 200 to 750 members within the past year, offers proof that the area's business climate is strong, he said.
In addition to his company's desire to expand in the area, Mr. Romaniello said Microtel's low price would draw leisure travelers to the Miami property.
"Microtel's objective is to be one of the bigger lower-economy hotel chains in Florida," he said. "Since leisure travel is price-sensitive and most hotels in the lower-end of the marketplace tend to be older, we have an opportunity to offer a superior, new product."