Attracting and retaining business from conventions, events and tourism to the Fort Smith region relies heavily on the efforts of both the community and growing tourism and hospitality industry. For that reason, we at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitor’s Bureau are happy to extend our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to our newest Hometown Hospitality Hero, Marion Driscoll.
For years, Driscoll has positively affected the area’s tourism and hospitality industry as one of its most valuable lodging partners. In 1994, he opened Guesthouse Inn & Suites – 65 rooms –and would open Aspen Hotel & Suites – 57 rooms – two years later. He has since sold his first two properties, and the Aspen Hotel has recently been renovated and rebranded by Best Western. Then, in 2009, he constructed Homewood Suites by Hilton – 88 suites – just two blocks from the Fort Smith Regional Airport. The all-suite hotel became the premier extended-stay facility in Fort Smith and has consistently received outstanding reviews that led to it being honored with the 2015 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. This month, Driscoll’s legacy of “excellence” continues just across the street from this facility.
Home2 Suites by Hilton opened its doors on January 18, 2016 and provides visitors with a brand new all-suite hotel that caters to both families and business travellers. Guests will enjoy 90 modern studio and one-bedroom suites with a unique “working wall” that incorporates movable furniture, a work/media area, a full kitchen, free wifi, 40-inch flatscreen HDTV and more. What makes this hotel most unique, though, is the fact that it is an eco-friendly facility that was constructed and designed with sustainability in mind. On each floor, guests will find recycling stations and can collect recyclables in containers found in every suite. In the kitchen, you’ll only find appliances with Energy Star ratings that save power/water and real china to reduce the amount of plastic plates and utensils that end up in landfills. It gets even “greener” than that, though, which you can learn more about on the corporate website.
Since 2009, Fort Smith’s tourism and hospitality industry has experienced a great deal of growth due to its reputation as one of True West magazine’s, “Top Ten True Western Towns.” In addition to that, large conventions and events like the Fort Smith Marathon, The Steel Horse Rally, Peacemaker Music & Arts Festival, and The Unexpected Project have caused many visitors’ compasses to point them West to Fort Smith! In fact, the economic impact of conventions and events just through the third quarter of 2015’s fiscal year was estimated to be $40 million! As traffic from tourism has increased, so has demand for lodging, which makes 2016 the perfect year for Driscoll to open his newest hospitality investment.
Without a healthy and diversified selection of quality lodging establishments, the local tourism and hospitality industry would not have grown as quickly as it has. As any meeting, event and/or group travel planner can tell you, a city’s lodging offerings are one of the main things that they take into consideration when choosing an event destination. Because of people like Marion Driscoll, Fort Smith is able to compete with larger markets and attract more and more business to the city, each year. For that reason, we at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau are extremely grateful for the efforts of Mr. Driscoll – our 2016 first quarter Hometown Hospitality Hero!