HERKIMER — When brothers James and John Brown became more involved in the running of the family business, the Herkimer Motel & Suites, nearly a decade ago, they knew they had a solid foundation to build on, but that the facility needed a little sprucing up to keep up with the times.
Established in 1962, the motel has long had a reputation for being a “meticulously clean” facility, but it’s look had become more than a bit dated, John Brown, managing director, says. The Herkimer Motel receives an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars on travel-review website tripadvisor.com, he says, but he and his brother knew they needed to make some changes in order to keep those high ratings for the 62-room motel.
Over the past two years, the brothers have undertaken a complete redesign at the motel, located on Marginal Road. They’ve renovated everything from the rooms to the exterior walls to installing a new sign.
“We basically rebuilt the property from the inside out,” Brown says. Every room was stripped down to the studs and rebuilt with new insulation and doors, soundproof windows, and updated wiring. Bathrooms were completely renovated, kitchen units were upgraded with new granite countertops, and rooms feature new flat-screen televisions and new bedding. Work also included the hallways and stairwells, which all received a fresh, bright coat of paint, and new artwork was displayed around the motel.
The Browns also made sure to upgrade technology at the Herkimer Motel, including adding free WiFi access. “You have to stay current with the technology,” James Brown, also a managing director of the motel, says.
“We did it over a period of time, so we never had to shut down, and we did it in- house,” Brown says. He declined to say exactly how much the project cost, but says it is in the six figures. “We’ve made a major capital improvement into the property,” he says.
Both John and James Brown used their own travels to help gauge what travelers expect from a motel and built the project around that inspiration. The goal was to rid the motel of its “retro” feel and give it a more modern look while maintaining its reputation as a clean facility.
They don’t expect the renovation project to necessarily attract new customers, Brown says. Instead, it’s about making current customers happy — drawing them back for more visits as well as having them refer the Herkimer Motel to friends.
“You can do all the good marketing you want, but at the end of the day, it’s referrals that are the core of your business,” James Brown says.
About 70 percent of the motel’s guests are repeat guests and referrals from guests. The Herkimer Motel’s occupancy rate averages around 72 percent. The Browns expect that rate to stay at its current high level.
Located just off the New York State Thruway at exit 30, the Herkimer Motel & Suites (www.herkimermotel.com) draws a large number of travelers, often just looking for a place to stay for one night. The motel offers a business center for business travelers. Other amenities include a fitness center, outdoor pool, and a breakfast room serving continental breakfast. A Denny’s restaurant next door provides guests with another dining option.
As of April 11, the Herkimer Motel & Suites had received 98 user reviews on tripadvisor.com, with 49 excellent, 31 very good, 9 average, 5 poor, and 4 terrible.