Hotel holds official opening

NILES – It’s not quite clear which is the bigger beneficiary – Residence Inn by Marriott or Eastwood Mall.

Since the new extended-stay hotel opened quietly May 29, both the hotel and the mall to which it is attached have been reaping the benefits, officials from both entities said during the hotel’s official grand opening Thursday.

The hotel has been so busy, in fact, it already has experienced several nights of sellouts.

“We have been really busy,” said Michele Janci, hotel director of sales. “There have been a lot of corporate guests, weekend weddings, baseball teams. It’s been a nice mix.”

Helping to achieve the sellouts also have been several engineers and other crew in town working on upgrades at the General Motors Corp. complex in Lordstown.

Matthew Boarts, property manager at the adjacent Cafaro Co.-owned Eastwood Mall, said the mall also has been seeing the pluses.

“It’s been a real benefit for us. All the stores in the mall, whether it’s retail, restaurants, entertainment, have all benefited in one form or another,” Boarts said. “We have a lot of options here for them, and I think honestly the hotel has helped us. But in a lot of regards, we have helped the hotel as well.”

The four-story, 103-room hotel operated by TMI Hospitality, had been under construction for more than a year before its May opening.

Eventually, it will be connected to Eastwood Mall via an indoor walkway through a still-developing banquet and conference center capable of seating up to 1,000 guests. That facility will be under different management and is expected to be open within the year.

The concept of joining a hotel to a shopping mall is not novel, but it is new for Cafaro Company and the hotel’s owner / operator TMI Hospitality, along with the Marriott name.

“Marriott was initially very skeptical,” said Cafaro Company Co-President Anthony Cafaro Jr. “You rarely see this type of setup in this type of environment, but it’s proven successful thus far, and I think with the addition of the banquet and conference center, that will continue.”

Stephanie Sferra, executive director at Trumbull County Tourism Bureau, who also attended Thursday’s grand opening, knows well the value of the new facility.

“This particular hotel is going to serve a purpose not only for the leisure traveler but it will help us accommodate the business traveler,” she said. “This is more than a hotel. It’s like a home.”