Laurel’s new Fairfield Inn and Suites has room for building the community

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Story And Photos By Torrey Anderson
Thursday, November 17, 2022
Hotel investors, management and members of the Laurel Chamber of Commerce celebrate at a ribbon cutting ceremony last week.

Hotel investors, management and members of the Laurel Chamber of Commerce celebrate at a ribbon cutting ceremony last week.

It was the first day. The first two guests.

Two individuals who booked rooms in Laurel’s new Fairfield Inn by Marriott early in November might have been a little surprised with the level of excitement and fanfare on the part of the hotel’s staff, but there was a lot to celebrate. Laurel’s new Fairfield Inn held a grand opening ceremony on Nov. 9, but rooms were available as of Nov. 2.

The unofficial opening of the new hotel is the culmination of work that broke ground last April. The location was originally set to open in August, but supply chain issues delayed the construction process. “The minute you think you have it figured out, something happens,” says Kevin Hintt, Vice President of Dick Anderson Construction. Hintt has worked on a lot of projects in the area, but says, “This one stands out. Its a beautiful property.”

Laurel’s newest hospitality location boasts 38 Double Queen bed rooms, 23 Single King bed rooms, and 17 Extended King Studio suites, which offer a spacious living room area in addition to the bedroom. Other amenities include a pool, hot tub, fitness area and a conference room. Rooms include microwaves and a mid-sized refrigerator that is larger than the average hotel offering. Complimentary hot breakfast will be offered to guests, including “make-your -own” waffles and fresh-made entrees. High speed internet and Wi-Fi are also complimentary. Specially designed hearing-impaired friendly rooms are also available.

“Our goal was to make it a Laurel hotel,” says Cathy Cullen- Kuhr, Regional Director of Sales for Erck Hotels. The Fairfield brought 16 new jobs to the community, employing only seven people who don’t live in Laurel. Cullen-Kuhr and her staff have done extensive outreach to spread the news to high school teams and other entities to let them know that laurel has room for everyone. Laurel businesses have contributed to the construction and operation of the new hotel. Construction crews used tools made by Woods Powr-Grip of Laurel to install all of the glass in the new hotel. Dynamic Designs is supplying some of the staff uniforms.

“We’d rather have you stay in Laurel,” says Cullen-Kuhr, noting the fact that many school teams and business travelers end up booking rooms in Billings depending on the availability of in-town lodging. The new hotel could also be a potential temporary home to the influx of refinery workers when CHS has a turnaround. With more available lodging for travelers moving through Montana, Laurel may also become a hub for people seeking a nights’ rest before proceeding to Red Lodge, Cody, or other destinations.

The Fairfield Inn was developed by Erck Hotels out of Missoula, who also manages the property. Lou and Ruby Erck founded the company after building Ruby’s Inn and Convention Center in Missoula in 1980. The original Ruby’s Inn location was demolished in 2019 to make way for the Homewood Suites by Hilton, also operated by Erck Hotels. The Laurel Fairfield Inn and Suites is a Marriott Hotel. Erck Hotels operates three hotels in Billings and two in Great Falls, as well as other locations in Washington and Idaho.

Bookings for the Fairfield can be made directly online at marriott.com or by telephone. Third-party booking sites such as Expedia.com and Travelocity will also provide bookings, but Marriott does not generally offer discounted rates on these sites. However, Cullen-Kuhr says that The Fairfield’s rates will be competitive with current trends in the hospitality industry. At the time of this writing, a Single room at The Fairfield is priced at $139 per night. All amenities are included.

The theme of the Fairfield being a Laurel hotel was evidenced in the preparations for the Grand Opening on Nov. 9. Organizers for the event relied solely on Laurel businesses as providers.

The food was catered by Laurel’s new Carlton Depot restaurant. Plantasia provided decorations, and Red Rooster Kitchen provided an assortment of scratch-made cookies.

“We’re elevating the traveling experience in Laurel,” said Erck Hotels Regional Manager Stefan Cattarin in his address to guests at the Grand Opening. Hotel staff conducted tours of the accommodations at the event, and some guests even participated in the festivities. A drawing for a free stay at The Fairfield was

also held. General Manager Austin Hall said that his team will be “delivering that extra service to make Laurel proud.”

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