1. Hernando

New Brooksville hotel will offer suites for longer stays, bigger families

BROOKSVILLE — Excavation is underway for a new 72-room Fairfield Inn & Suites, providing a broader opportunity for travelers and visitors, and a boon to Hernando County taxing bodies.

The four-story, 45,000 square-foot edifice along Cortez Boulevard at Twin Dolphin Drive represents an investment of $9 million by Shinan LLC of Crystal River, owned by the Patel and Desai families and operated by their Maya Developers.

Featuring 25 to 35 suites among the 72-room floor plan, it has a conference center, business center and outdoor pool. Plans are to open in February of 2020.

Especially notable is the number of suites with larger living areas, plus king- and queen-sized beds and rollaways, accommodating up to four or five people, said Parth Patel, operations manager for Maya.

Hernando County Tourism manager Tammy Heon agreed;

"The big difference is the suites," she said. "That's why I'm excited about Fairfield. Having a wider inventory of variety will be good for our destinations."

Suites are attractive to people who stay longer than a single overnight and to families with children, Heon said. "The more assets we bring, the better off it is for everyone."

High motel occupancy rates in the county, especially at the 67-room Holiday Inn Express built in 2006 by the family at 14112 Cortez, and adjacent to the 2-acre Fairfield site, prompted the new construction, said Patel.

The entrepreneurs chose the Fairfield Inn & Suites franchise because it's a Marriott product.

"Marriott is at the highest level of quality," Patel said.

Fairfield also has the highest number of brand-designated customers, Patel said. The nearest Fairfield Inn & Suites is on State Route 54 at Port Richey, also owned by Shinan.

Marriott describes its Fairfield group as a "low-cost economy chain," a place to sleep with fewer amenities. The only amenity lacking at the new motel, said Patel, is a restaurant and bar.

Amenities at the new motel include Wifi, a conference room for 40, a business center with computer access, a hot-breakfast room, swimming pool, and rooms equipped with a coffee maker, mini-fridge, microwave, hair dryer, iron, alarm clock and writing desk.

Fairfield expects to employ a staff of 20 to 25.

"Most likely, they'll be local hires," Patel said, noting jobs for housekeepers, front desk workers, and in management, maintenance and engineering.

The Marriott corporation will send trainers for the new hires, while local training will teach staffers about nearby tourist destinations, events, entertainment and dining so they can answer visitor queries.

The motel will accept only service animals.

Standard room rates will start at $115, suites at $125. Prices were established following Marriott's local feasibility study that considered demographics, income levels and room rates at other hotels. Fairfield accepts discounts for government employees, AARP and AAA members.

McLauchlin & Co. of Ocala, which built Shinan's Hampton Inn in Spring Hill in 1998, is the general contractor. Donahue Architecture of Ocala designed the building.

The Patel-Desai family owns the Hampton Inn along Commercial Way in Spring Hill and the Quality Inn at Weeki Wachee. It owns three motels in Citrus County and one in Pasco.

Contact Beth Gray at