National hotel chain wants to check into east Columbia Wingate Inns' rates would undercut rivals'

January 31, 1996|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

Wingate Inns, a new hotel chain building more than 100 hotels nationwide, plans to open a $70-a-night hotel in east Columbia that would undercut room rates at Columbia's three other hotels.

Initial plans go up for review tonight at a meeting of the Howard County Planning Board. The 120-room hotel, to be built across from the Courtyard by Marriott on Stanford Boulevard east of Dobbin Center, would open within two years.

The Wingate chain is owned by Hospitality Franchise Systems Inc., a hotel franchise that includes Ramada Inn, Howard Johnson, Days Inn and Super 8, said Fred Mosser, president of Wingate Inns.

Like the Courtyard, Wingate Inns are designed for budget-minded business travelers and do not offer amenities such as large lobbies or room service. Wingate's restaurants will serve breakfast only, although plans for the Columbia Wingate call for a swimming pool and a whirlpool.

"It's a mid-priced, limited service concept," Mr. Mosser said yesterday from his office in Parsippany, N.J.

Columbia could use another hotel, said Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker. "The weekends may be slow," he said. "But we need more rooms during the week."

Last night, for example, two of the three hotels in Columbia were sold out -- the Courtyard and the Columbia Hilton, off Thunder Hill Road in Oakland Mills village. The third, the Columbia Inn in Columbia's Town Center, had rooms available.

"They [Wingate Inn officials] clearly feel there's a market," said John Greenleaf, a spokesman for Courtyard, which is based in Bethesda. Last year, Courtyard nationally, and in Columbia, had an average occupancy percentage rate in the low 80s, officials said.

The first Wingates will open nationally by late 1996. Mr. Mosser did not know exactly when the Columbia Wingate would open.

In Columbia, as elsewhere, hotel rates vary with availability and season. Mr. Mosser said Wingate Inns throughout the nation are shooting for $60 to $70 a night. He said the Columbia Wingate would charge about $70 a night.

Last night, hotel clerks at the other three Columbia hotels provided these room prices, not including tax, for one person: $86 at the Courtyard, which has 152 rooms; $99 for the Columbia Hilton, which has 152 rooms; and $109 at the Columbia Inn, which has 289 rooms.

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