By Lynn Binnie
Whitewater Banner staff
The long awaited Fairfield by Marriott Whitewater opened its doors on June 29 at 1242 W. Main Street. The Marriott Corporation indicates it’s one of 35 properties they have opened this month. The franchise is owned by WWHP, LLC, while it is the 11th property managed by Golder Hospitality of Minnesota, which has inns in Platteville, WI; Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio. The three-story inn has 71 rooms, each furnished with either a king bed or two queens. Sixteen of the rooms are suites, which include a sofa bed, and six rooms are ADA accessible, four of which have roll-in showers. The several rooms that are designed for guests with hearing impairments have a push button doorbell which also activates a strobe light in the room.
General Manager Kae Shisler told the Banner that she has been in the hospitality business for 43 years, having started behind the front desk right out of high school. She lives in Milton, and while managing the Holiday Inn Express in DeForest she heard about the construction of our new hotel and jumped at the chance to forgo her grueling daily commute.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required a temporary change from the hot breakfast buffet that will normally be served in the spacious dining room. For now, guests will be able to pre-order a “grab-‘n-go” breakfast. Many steps are being taken to minimize the risks of infection. Each guest is provided with hand sanitizer upon checkin. The housekeeping staff normally doesn’t service a room during a guest’s stay, and when they check out, if possible, the staff waits 24 hours before entering the room for cleaning. Guests are encouraged but not required to wear masks in the public areas, whereas the staff always have facial coverings.
Amenities include a fitness center, a pool, and free WIFI. Guests may access their Netflix and other streaming services on their TV. In-room amenities include a microwave, refrigerator, and Keurig coffeemaker. Rather than the traditional printed directory, guests may access information via their television, including a number of local restaurant listings that are being provided at no charge to the establishments.
Ms. Shisler acknowledged that business travel is still at a low ebb, so the opening has been expectedly quiet. Weekends for July, however, are booking fairly well. Rack rates will, of course, vary depending upon the season and the demand. Weekday stays this week are advertised on the Marriott website for rates beginning at $89 plus tax, with the holiday weekend jumping to $129 and up.
Shisler indicated that the General Manager of a new property is normally hired six months before opening, but with the COVID-19 related delay in finishing construction she has actually been employed for a year already, which has enabled her to do a good deal of training with the 11 person staff, which is about half what it will be at full occupancy. “It’s been a long time coming,” Shisler stated, “and we’re excited to serve the Whitewater community.” The Banner welcomes Kae, her staff, and Fairfield to Whitewater and wishes them increasing success as travel returns to more normal times.