Golf legend Arnold Palmer signs SpringHill hotel project

Golf master Arnold Palmer can now add “hotelier” to his impressive resume.

Palmer is partnering with Concord Hospitality Enterprises to build a 109-key SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel near his Latrobe Country Club in Pennsylvania. The hotel will be jointly owned by Palmer Hospitality LP, Concord and Keith H. McGraw, is slated to open late next year.

What can guests expect? A lot of green. Palmer’s golfing career will be the inspiration for the hotel’s design, which will feature everything from his awards to golf memorabilia. The hotel will be a LEED-certified prototype that was pioneered by Concord in conjunction with Marriott.

The all-suite concept will offer separate areas for sleeping, working and relaxing, and will feature complimentary daily breakfast buffet, in-suite microwave and mini-fridge, pull-out sofa bed, free high-speed Internet access, swimming pool and whirlpool, fitness room and on-site business services.

We’re pretty sure the SpringHill Suites will offer shuttle service to the golf course, too.

Inside the award winning SpringHill Suites by Marriott

As part of our hotel review coverage, we recently paid a visit to the newest generation SpringHill Suites by Marriott. The property in question was not only one of the newest, it was also voted “opening hotel of the year” in 2008. Marriott is putting a lot of effort (and money) into refreshing its properties. Back in January, we showed you the updates at their Courtyard brand.

The upgrades are evident before you even walk in the front door – the outside of the hotel is modern and very pleasantly designed. Plenty of free parking and a covered entry allows for easy check-in.

The lobby area is nice and bright – one might even call it “hip”. In the lobby is of course the front desk, but it is also home to a nice business “center” with two PC’s and a pair of printers.

These printers are not just for guest using the lobby PC’s – thanks to a set of keypads, you can also print documents from your room, and “release” them using a code you assign. This way, you can print things like your boarding pass, then walk downstairs to pick up the print.

A full service bar offers liquid relief, as well as an assortment of light snacks. TV’s are located throughout the lobby, making it a surprisingly decent place to spend some time, which sure beats hanging out in your room all evening.

And speaking of the room – I really loved the layout. Inside the room, you’ll find a (sleeper) sofa, desk with glass divider, separate toilet / shower area and a coffee/fridge/microwave/ice corner

The desk has everything you need to get some work done – four outlets, a wired network port and a decent lamp. The hotel Wi-Fi was slightly disappointing, as it limited all speeds to 2mbit – but this should also mean mooches won’t be able to suck up all the bandwidth, depriving others of Internet access.

The glass doors slide open, allowing natural light into the desk/sofa corner, or can be closed for a little bit of privacy.

The room has a single 37″ flat panel LCD TV. The screen swivels, making it ideal for watching TV from bed, or from the sofa. Under the TV is a media access panel, with easy access to VGA, HDMI, video and audio. Thankfully, this property didn’t fall for the old trick of offering HDTV’s without any HD programming – the majority of all channels were crystal clear HD, and the lineup was surprisingly decent.

Another really simple, yet helpful touch was ordering iHome alarm clocks WITH the operating instructions printed on them. You’d be amazed how many hotels purchase the consumer version of this clock, assuming everyone in the world can program them without the need for instructions.

The separate toilet/bathroom design was really neat – both offer privacy with large sliding doors. The shower was a real treat with its showerhead and side spray nozzles – a perk normally reserved for more upscale luxury properties.

All in all, a very nice design and one that I hope will spread to all other SpringHill Suites properties.

Everything is where it should be, and while the rooms won’t “feel like home”, the bed is comfortable, the climate control worked, and you can even open the windows. It doesn’t take much to please me in a hotel, but it also doesn’t take much to spoil the experience. Thankfully, this new SpringHill Suites design sets a really good benchmark for how business/leisure hotels should be.

The hotel in this review is located in Waukegan, IL – about 40 minutes north of Chicago, and about 10 minutes from the city of Gurnee. Gurnee is also home to Six Flags Great America – making it the perfect location for a family getaway. Thanks to the sofa bed, the rooms are great for families with kid(s). The hotel has an on-site pool and fitness lounge, as well as free breakfast.

Rates start at $95, and you can find out more about this specific hotel, or other hotels in the SpringHill Suites chain here.