Doors open to guests visiting Alliance since Oct. 30, the Holiday Inn Express and Suites hosted an open house Wednesday afternoon. More than 50 people filled the lobby enjoying conversation, a hospitality room and tours. Co-owners of the hotel G Kalabhai and Mike Works, with Alliance Lodging, LLC, were in attendance with Works greeting guests, acknowledging those who planned and worked on the project, community support and the roles of former Mayor Ralph Yeager, BBDC Director Chelsie Herian, and City Manager Rick Kuckkahn in the process. He listed about a half-dozen investors including WESTCO CEO David Briggs and local businessman Mike Essay, who was among the visitors with wife Donna. Works also alluded to plans for a new building on the property he hopes to bring before the Alliance City Council in the next three to four months.
Newly elected Mayor Mike Dafney greeted Works and spoke briefly, commenting, "We are tickled to death you're here," adding the community needed it. "We hope you have a lot of success." The city council helped attract the company by approving LB840 assistance totaling $200,000 ($150,000 forgivable loan and $50,000 non-forgivable loans).
General Manager Alicia Hellwig, an Alliance High graduate, has been with Alliance Lodging LLC since June. After growing up here she was away for 15 years. Hellwig brings a business background in restaurant/brewery management. She oversees about 15 employees with staff expected to reach 20 during the summer season.
A new hotel, like most new businesses, experiences the balance between attracting initial visitors by promoting a new option and welcoming curious travelers that may have noticed the building’s signature blue lights. So far, Hellwig said, “(Business) is getting better every day.”
A billboard south of Chadron directs drivers to that community’s Holiday Inn Express, which opened months before the Alliance location, built on two acres on Highway 385 just south of Third Street. Hellwig said the two hotels, and one in Ogallala, are owned by the same company. The Alliance version (an about $8 million project) is slightly larger, 71 rooms compared to 68, and was a modular build where the Chadron hotel used more traditional “stick-built” construction. Hellwig thought Alliance was the company’s first choice for the modular method, adding, “construction is quicker.”
Hotels bring visitors back through hospitality. Alliance has welcomed the business, which adds needed rooms. “Everyone’s been really supportive and happy we’re here,” Hellwig said.
The Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors also gathered with hotel employees and owners for an official ribbon cutting.