The long-awaited Holiday Inn and conference center has opened.
Plans for the hotel were first announced with fanfare five years ago as Joliet government and business leaders pointed to the need for more meeting and banquet space in the city.
The hotel quietly opened in April, and some finishing touches are being made to the conference center and swimming pool area.
But the new Holiday Inn and Rock Run Conference Center is getting noticed.
“People have been hearing about this hotel for so long,” said Ash Mehrotra, a partner with Hospitality Guru Group, which built and owns the hotel. “Now that it’s open, they want to check it out.”
Checking into the Holiday Inn, a guest walking toward the front door can see right through the spacious lobby and a large glass window on the other side of the building that gives a view of a pond that has been used as a central feature of the hotel.
“We wanted to create a facility that connects with nature,” Hospitality Guru partner Sejal Patel told the Joliet City Council this week while making a presentation on the hotel.
It’s an interesting concept given that the hotel sits near the Houbolt Road interchange with Interstate 80.
Warehouse space hovers nearby, but inside the hotel there’s constantly glimpses of the pond that is bordered by patio seating and tables that the hotel owners plan to use for outdoor dining.
The pond actually is a detention pond that was an eyesore when Hospitality Guru Group bought the 11-acre piece of land.
“We drained it, cleared out all the weed, and sealed it so now it holds water,” Patel said at the hotel Thursday. “It was overgrown, dry and basically a pit.”
Now the pond is the focal point of the hotel. The treadmills in the 2,000-square-foot fitness center face the pond. The indoor pool area has large windows giving a view of the pond. The indoor entrance to Burger Theory, the hotel restaurant and bar, looks out to the pond.
“Every space that is public space – the idea is to connect it with the pond,” Patel said. “The idea is to calm the guest.”
The walk to the banquet and meeting space also goes past the window overlooking the pond.
The Rock Run Convention Center has 6,000 square feet of banquet space and 2,000 square feet of break-out space.
The break-out space includes
three meeting rooms and a boardroom with a large table for executive
Joliet needed the additional meeting space connected to a hotel and restaurant, said John Greuling, president and chief executive officer of the Will County Center for Economic Development.
“It really has been a challenge for us when we’re looking to host something for 250 to 300 people,” Greuling said.
Greuling said CED representative and city officials urged the developers to create modern banquet and meeting space with the hotel.
The banquet area can hold up to
Add the hotel rooms and restaurant, Patel said, and there can be 1,000 people in the hotel at one time.
“We feel we’ve fulfilled our promise to the city and we brought a high-quality product to Joliet,” Patel said.