Ed Callison cuts the ribbon at Wednesday afternoon's grand opening of the Hampton Inn & Suites in Craig. The hotel, on Cedar Court, opened to guests Wednesday night.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Ed Callison cuts the ribbon at Wednesday afternoon's grand opening of the Hampton Inn & Suites in Craig. The hotel, on Cedar Court, opened to guests Wednesday night.

Hampton Inn & Suites welcomes 1st guests

At a glance:

• Size: 64,000 square feet

• Rates: From $109 to $159 per night

• Number of rooms: 89

• Double queen beds: 26

• King beds: 63

• Suites: 26

• One handicapped access suite

• Pool, whirlpool and fitness room

The pool at the Hampton Inn & Suites had never been used, but every towel was rolled by hand and arranged neatly on shelves.

In each of the 89 rooms, every shampoo bottle was lined up next to the fresh sinks.

More than 200 sets of sheets were pre-washed and stretched out across beds that had never been slept in.

Until Wednesday night.

The new Hampton Inn & Suites, off Cedar Court west of Craig, welcomed its first guests Wednesday night after a ribbon cutting ceremony that afternoon.

A year after ground was broken on the project, hotel managers, employees and Craig Chamber of Commerce ambassadors joined in for the ceremony, which marked the hotel's official opening.

A grand opening party for the public will take place Nov. 20.

The first floor was open for guests to wander in and out and look at the amenities the hotel offers.

Although the furnishings and decor all adhere to Hampton's brand standards, each hotel has things that make it unique.

Assistant general manager Becky Sue Callison pointed out a one-of-a-kind painting of several elk in a colorful fall scene.

"We try to use area art, so there are a lot of pictures of elk around," she said.

Of the 89 rooms, there is one Jacuzzi room, with an elevated whirlpool near the bed. There is one handicapped suite that features a roll-in shower.

The pool is humidity-controlled and all the cardio machines in the fitness room have personal TVs.

Hotel managers received their certificate of occupancy Friday. Still, Callison and her team of housekeeping employees had work to do, she said.

"We had to hang up the art, dust and mop every tile in the pool area," she said. "We placed every lamp, hung every curtain. Everything you see in these rooms, me and the girls did it. And, oh yes, we're ready."

For housekeeping director Sofia Rodriguez, running an open hotel will be a breeze after all the preparations.

"It's been a lot of work," she said. "Too much. It's going to be easy now. It'll be like we've always been open."

The 64,000-square-foot hotel hired its staff in June and has been training since.

Hilton Hotels, Hampton's parent company, requires its front desk staff to have at least 120 hours of training on computers. Staff members had to take tests and score at a certain level.

"We had to score in the 80th percentile or better or we couldn't open," Callison said. "It was a lot of pressure."

She said she was proud of her housekeeping staff for scoring in the 95th percentile on their tests and expected the best from them now that the hotel is open.

Ed Callison, who was a part of the opening of a Hampton Inn & Suites in Rifle, said the demand for more hotel rooms was present in Craig, especially in the fall.

"We were really pushing for hunting season," he said. "We're already booked full for a few weeks."

But Becky knows booking rooms only is the beginning of their work.

All of the effort that went into readying the hotel now has to be spent on providing a certain level of service.

"People expect a Hampton to be perfect," she said.

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