Dozens of people toured the Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Champaign on its first day of business.
CHAMPAIGN — Dozens of people toured the Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Champaign on Tuesday, its first day of business.
"I think it will be like this for a while," General Manager Victor Patterson said of the steady stream of visitors eager to see how things look inside.
Area residents have been driving past for months, watching the nine-story building go up, he observed.
"They've taken this on as their own little project," he said, and they want to see how it turned out.
Champaign resident Dot Beldon said she likes the way the hotel is laid out — "it's so nice and roomy" — and would reserve a room if company comes to town. She was particularly taken aback by sights from the ninth-floor guest rooms.
"The view in the fall will be beautiful," Beldon said, referring to tree-sprinkled neighborhoods to the north and east of downtown.
Patterson said the most common comments he heard was that the hotel was "modern yet comfortable" and "the views from the rooms are spectacular."
The first guest to check in Tuesday was musician Foy Vance, who was slated to perform Tuesday night at Mike 'n' Molly's before heading back to the United Kingdom. Also on the first night's guest list: a researcher from Stockholm, Sweden, doing work at the University of Illinois, said Caitlyn Mooney, the hotel's director of sales.
Activities at the Hyatt Place gear up this week with the Champaign Center Partnership's annual meeting today and a fundraiser for Mayor Don Gerard on Thursday, Mooney said. A couple of wedding receptions are also on tap the next few weeks.
Patterson said the hotel has no sellout nights so far.
"The closest we have is 95 percent for Dad's Weekend," he said. Other popular nights include UI homecoming weekend, "move-in" week at the university and the home UI football games.
The hotel's 145 guest rooms are on the fifth through ninth floors, with king-bed suites situated on the northeast corner of each floor. Those suites have views to both the north and east.
The general public can order lunch and dinner from the hotel's Gallery menu, but only overnight guests will be allowed to use the parking decks on the second through fourth floors, said Guest Experience Manager Ashley Copher.
The four lower-level meeting rooms are separated by partitions, but the dividers can be removed to accommodate meetings of up to 250 people, Patterson said. The set-up for wedding receptions generally accommodates 150 to 175 guests.
Hans Grotelueschen, who put together YG Hotel Investors, the group that owns the hotel, said he wanted to thank the community for its interest in and support of the project.
A visiting Hyatt official — Regional Vice President Will Dow — called Grotelueschen and his investor group "a great partner of ours." He praised the hotel's location and said he was confident the staff will deliver genuine hospitality.