By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Mankato’s newest hotel is wired — and wireless — with all the gadgets and tools for business travelers.
The upscale 93-room Courtyard by Marriott, next to Scheels at River Hills Mall, opened Wednesday.
General Manager Preston Lougheed said that while the hotel is set up for business travelers, they added many amenities not found in other Courtyard properties because of the strong leisure component in the Mankato economy.
“We’ll host business travelers during the week and we’ll have the leisure market on the weekends.”
The hotel is aiming for a big business in weddings. An outdoor courtyard has a fire pit, water features, a spot for wedding ceremonies, and room to seat 150 guests.
Nearby a 7,000-square-foot ballroom can be divided into smaller spaces for business events or opened up to accommodate 400 people.
“People can hold their wedding ceremony out here in the courtyard, then go into the ballroom for the reception and then got to their rooms for the night,” Lougheed said.
Other amenities include a 55-inch LCD touch screen in the lobby that allows guests to access a variety local and national information, and it can be transferred to their smartphone. They can touch the screen for local restaurants and get a map and directions that can be printed out, or access sports scores or a variety of other information.
“It’s a virtual concierge,” Lougheed said of the GoBoard screen.
The lobby features an open space with media pods, Wi-Fi and a variety of seating zones.
“Most hotels, you’re in your room or you’re going out. We have a lot of public spaces that still offer some privacy,” Lougheed said.
A bistro area offers breakfasts and evening meals, as well as Starbucks coffee, beer, wine and some cocktails.
The pool and whirlpool use saline rather than harsher-smelling chlorine, and the workout room features high-end exercise equipment, each fitted with a flat-screen TV.
Guest rooms include standard rooms, suites and whirlpool rooms and have 100 channels of HD TV. Rates start at $129 per night.
The hotel is the first in the state to earn a LEED or “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” certification for sustainable designs including 190 Minnesota-made solar panels, low-flow toilets, water-efficient heaters and softeners, use of numerous recycled materials, and rain gardens to collect water from the property.
The hotel is owned by David Peters and his sisters Ann and Susan Peters. They also own the AmericInn hotel in Mankato, the University Square retail complex next to MSU and the strip mall across from River Hills Mall that formerly housed Barnes & Nobles.
The hotel also owns a lot adjacent to the hotel. Lougheed said they have several restaurant chains that are interested in the site.