Fairfield Inn & Suites breaks ground on summer 2018 opening

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, June 28, 2017

LAPLACE — Leaders with SMC Hotels are always looking for development opportunities around Louisiana and Texas, especially the major markets along Interstate 10.

That put LaPlace, more specifically the Belle Terre Boulevard exit, on their radar.

That St. John the Baptist Parish focus, which began in 2015, celebrated a milestone recently with a ground breaking for a new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott franchise located on Belle Terre near I-10.

SMC Hotels President W. Harrison Smith said they hope to have the 94-room hotel open by May 2018.

Harrison said LaPlace comes up as the first overflow city outside of New Orleans, ahead of Slidell and Covington, when out-of-towners are booking rooms in the metro area.

That location advantage — paired with numerous petro-chemical expansions and Belle Terre Land opportunities — made it favorable to invest in LaPlace.

Harrison said he anticipates the Belle Terre commercial sector’s future growth to include many modern, landscaped developments.

He said community members and investors should be proud of the landowner’s efforts to ensure green space, setbacks, landscaping and sidewalks as part of new developments.

“It may not have the fast growth that Gonzales had, but I think you will see it will get to a point very similar to that, where Gonzales has a massive hotel cluster with some restaurants and Cabela’s,” Harrison said. “I think you will see the things built in this city will come to the Belle Terre development, because it’s very buildable land and has the location attraction with the interstate.”

SMC Hotels Vice-President Delton Smith said his company has watched development out of Gonzales “blow up over the last 10 to 15 years,” driven by what’s going on with Mississippi River-based petro-chemical companies.

That development and SMC Hotels’ previous experience with a Dallas Fairfield Inn & Suites made the LaPlace venture possible.

“If you look at the projects announced statewide, the size of them and where they are located, they are either in Lake Charles or centered between New Orleans and Baton Rouge along the river,” Delton said.

“If you look at our location in St. John Parish, we should have a strong amount of corporate business from all those factories, plants and companies who bring in sales people, technicians and traveling executives. On the highway, you’ve got tens of thousands of cars going by every single day and that drives a ton of visibility and New Orleans, itself, on any big event creates compression all over the region and drives business out.”

Delton said the Fairfield Inn model features a focus on rooms, rates that include breakfast and an open, engaging lobby for customers who want to interact and use Wi-Fi in a “vibrant atmosphere.”

“Once we have a manager on board, that manager can run a search process for the 15 to 20 fulltime employees,” Delton said, adding hiring would take place in Spring 2018.

“Hospitality is a great career. Our family has been in the business since 1932. It’s a business that is literally everywhere in the world. It’s a business you can grow with. It’s not limiting. It gives you an opportunity to travel.”

Fairfield Inn & Suites will be located on approximately 65 acres of development-ready property managed by Belle Terre Land.

Development manager Harold Flynn said he is pleased SMC Hotels sees value in their investment and the development’s “hopes and dreams for what’s to come.”

“The river industry has a good bit of expansion planned, and a lot of people see positive results in that,” Flynn said. “The I-10 corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge has increased in its use. We’re hoping to set up a marketing plan that includes the Smiths and Fairfield and see if we can get them some neighbors.”

Flynn was especially complimentary of the effort by the utilities company and local government to create a site that is attractive to commercial investment.

Parish President Natalie Robottom called the location “strategic,” adding she anticipates the hotel will add economic vitality to the region by meeting the demand for more hotel rooms and creating jobs.