When Best Western decided to open its third Vib hotel in Springfield, it was a bit of a surprise. Even Jackie Smylie, Best Western’s manager of boutique and upscale brands, was taken aback. “Best Western looked at all markets for its first Vib location in the United States,” she says. “But Gordon wanted to build one in Springfield, and we weren’t going to say no.” Gordon is Gordon Elliott, of Elliott Lodging, and he’s a longtime Best Western property developer. Elliott has 22 hotels in his portfolio, including the Coach House and the Rail Haven. Both properties fall under the Best Western umbrella. The Coach House opened 65 years ago, and the Rail Haven, which serves as a boutique hotel for the Route 66 fan base, is one of Best Western’s oldest hotels. Both are what Gordon calls roadside motels—economy lodging with parking right outside your room’s door.
Springfield's Vib Hotel Serves as a Gathering Place for Locals and Visitors
The Vib Hotel, pronounced "Vibe," has modern interiors that were designed to appeal to a younger, millennial demographic. The location in Springfield is the third of the boutique hotel concept by Best Western Hotel & Resorts.
By Ettie Berneking | Art Direction by Alex Wolken
This style of property dominated the market back when Gordon first got into the hotel business in the ’90s. Many of Springfield’s visitors were in town to check out Route 66. Today, higher-end, full-service hotels are what’s hot. “People are traveling more, and there’s a big demand for business travel,” Gordon says. So when Best Western unveiled Vib—one if its new boutique brands geared toward a younger and more modern traveler, Gordon saw a chance to take a bite out of a growing market. There was just one catch: Best Western had only launched two other Vib locations. One was in Turkey, and the other was in Seoul, South Korea. If Gordon opened a Vib in Springfield, it would be Vib’s third location and its first in the United States. It was a big ask. Best Western was looking at markets including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but Gordon pulled it off in part due to his pitch about Springfield’s growing crowd of young business owners.
“That’s a growing segment of the audience we’re trying to reach. I could see a new market.”— Gordon Elliott President, CEO, Elliott Lodging
“That’s a growing segment of the audience we’re trying to reach,” he says. “I could see a new market,” and so could Best Western. The hotel chain opened the Springfield Vib, which is short for Vibrant, in August 2018. The two-story lobby, gaming stations, electronic tech shop, fireplace lounge and workstations are not your traditional economy features, but the prices are still budget-friendly. Rooms have a smaller footprint and fewer amenities like microwaves, which are housed next to each floor’s ice machine. The other big change is the lobby itself, which Gordon and Smylie hope will serve as a gathering place for both locals and visitors. The addition of The Wheelhouse, with its selection of fast-casual cuisine, has been a big draw. “Seeing that partnership has really inspired us to look for other partnerships that could work out,” Smylie says.
New Vib locations are already underway in Staten Island with additional properties planned for Orlando, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit, but Springfield, Missouri, and Gordon, can say they got to the market first. And those developers who are planning their own Vib locations often find themselves at the corner of Sunshine Street and Glenstone Avenue checking out the first Vib location in the United States.
Springfield's Hotel Boom
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