Downtown Colorado Springs hasn’t seen a new hotel built from the ground up in nearly a half century.

Now it finally has one — and downtown advocates will have to wait only a fraction of that time for the ribbon to be cut on the area’s next new lodging property.

A 10-story, 168-room Hilton Garden Inn, which will market itself to business and leisure travelers, as well as tourists, opened just after Labor Day on the southeast corner of Bijou Street and Cascade Avenue.

The hotel — with eight suites among its rooms — includes a fitness center and indoor pool, a full-service restaurant and bar, meeting rooms, a 24-hour business center, room service and free Wi-Fi for guests. The second-floor restaurant, bar and meeting rooms are open to the public.

The Hilton Garden Inn was built by New Vision Hotels of Colorado Springs, which also developed five additional local properties. The company also developed hotels near Denver International Airport and in Castle Rock, Fort Collins and Summit County.

Two downtown office buildings were remodeled in recent years to create The Mining Exchange hotel and a Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

But the Hilton Garden Inn is downtown’s first newly constructed hotel since the Clarion Inn and Quality Inn were built in 1972 on Bijou Street, west of Interstate 25, according to downtown advocates and El Paso County land records. Those hotels closed this year to make way for a condominium project.

Slawek Pietraszek, New Vision’s managing director, said the company has sought to emphasize service at the Hilton Garden Inn . The hotel will eventually employ 55 to 60 people; a separate vendor with about 20 employees is handling valet parking.

Rooms have a contemporary look and feel; each have a Keurig coffee maker, microwave, refrigerator, high-definition TV, sitting area, work desk, and iron and ironing board, among other amenities. The hotel’s exterior has a brick, stone and stucco facade.

“It’s all pretty modern, but also very calming,” Pietraszek said. “When you get into a room, after your long day, you’re tired, we want you to relax.”

The hotel’s west and north sides have expansive mountain views, and 90% of guests have asked about booking those rooms, said Daniel Valdez, the hotel’s general manager.

“You can’t beat this view.”

Nightly room rates range from the $200s to $300s, based on the time of year, weekday vs. weekend, demand and other factors, Valdez said. The hotel also charges a premium for mountain view rooms, he said.

The hotel’s first floor has about 7,300 vacant square feet that’s being marketed to retailers, restaurants and service-oriented businesses, said Manny San Fernando of Kratt Commercial Properties.

A full-service, sit-down restaurant would occupy about 3,300 square feet of that space, while a salon and spa are envisioned, he said.

The restaurant, spa/salon and other uses will serve hotel guests but also will be open to the public, San Fernando said. He hopes to have the space filled within 12 months.

“It’s walkable, easy to get to, access from I-25,” San Fernando said. “So we’re being very selective to make sure that we bring something good and fun and something that benefits downtown Colorado Springs as well.”

The hotel’s rooftop will accommodate a restaurant and bar that will operate separately from the hotel, Pietraszek said. The rooftop likely won’t open until next year, and Pietraszek said he’s still looking for a new entertainment concept.

“We’re not in a hurry just to do a restaurant,” he said. “There are a lot of restaurants. It has to be a concept that we’re lacking in Colorado Springs, so that people will say ‘we’re going to this place. It’s special.’”

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum that’s scheduled to open in southwest downtown next year, along with a flurry of downtown development and redevelopment projects, will help boost his hotel, Pietraszek said.

“It’s going to have a great impact on us and I think the whole downtown of Colorado Springs,” he said.

The Hilton Garden Inn is one of several downtown hotel projects either under construction or on the drawing board that will open in the next few years.

Ground was broken this year on the 80-space Kinship Landing hotel on South Nevada, which is scheduled to open in 2020; a 259-room, dual-branded Marriott hotel on South Tejon Street is targeted to open in 2021; and a 120-room Hyatt Place at Kiowa Street and Nevada Avenue also has been proposed by a Pueblo developer.

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