Holiday Inn & Suites built with energy efficiency in mind

Dave Haning walked around the new Holiday Inn & Suites like a kid in a candy store.

Haning, the chief operating executive, provided a tour of the new business Thursday morning.

Dave Haning walked around the new Holiday Inn & Suites like a kid in a candy store. Haning, the chief operating executive, provided a tour of the new business Thursday morning. Holiday Inn & Suites, 101 Holiday St., opened Sept. 10. On Thursday, there were about 20 rooms booked, and nearly the entire hotel is already booked for a weekend in October. Haning said they expect to draw the business traveler Monday through Thursday and the leisure traveler on the weekends, as well as sports groups that come to play at EastSide Centre. Upon entering the light yellow building, which was painted that color to complement Caterpillar, there is a lobby area with a check-in desk. Accents, such as wall paintings and table decor add to the room. Steve Dolleslager and Kim Whalen, wife of Mike Whalen, the owner of the company, decorated the hotel. Straight back and to the right is Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, which has the Blue Bar situated in the center. There are tables that can be sectioned off with curtains to provide privacy. “This is really popular with people,” Haning said. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse also has a separate outside entrance. In addition to the fine dining restaurant, there is a breakfast buffet for guests and the public where one can get made to order omelets. Outside of Johnny’s, there is a patio which continues the blue light theme outdoors. There is also a fire pit to provide ambiance and warmth. Showing the ballroom, Haning said, “This is one of the real features of the hotel. We can do weddings and parties for up to 400 people in here.” The room can be broken into four quadrants, each named for a part of East Peoria’s history: Best, Levee, Clements and Blue Town. Leo Best was the chairman of the board when Caterpillar formed, and Charles Clements was credited with the Caterpillar name. Blue Town was the name of a section of East Peoria at one time, and Levee is for the Levee District, the city’s newest development. In constructing the hotel, which took about 17 months from start to finish, energy efficiency was given a lot of consideration. Outside, indigenous grasses were planted. Haning said the reasons for this were two-fold. It gives a prairie-like appearance of how the area once looked and it saves on energy because they do not have to mow or water the grass. On the roof of the six-story building, there are solar panels to draw energy from the sun. Haning said hotel officials are applying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. Coming down from the roof, Haning showed the four kinds of suites at the hotel: the King Jr. Suite, the Family Suite, the Kid’s Suite and the Executive Suite. The Executive Suite has a double vanity in the bathroom, a shower and a tub with a flat-screen TV on the wall, a king-sized bed, dining area and kitchenette. The Kid’s Suite has a room for mom and dad with a king-sized bed and a kid’s room with yellow bunk beds and a Caterpillar mural painted on the wall, complete with a tractor toy on the floor. Haning said they will add an Xbox gaming system to this type of suite. All of the suites have modern-looking barn-style doors, which slide on a steel rod, and most rooms have floor to ceiling windows. The 137-room hotel, 20 of which are suites, also has energy efficient lighting, mostly LED. Each room has a refrigerator, which Haning said is a “big plus because not all hotels do.” Even the carpeting in the hallway has a Caterpillar theme with a design that looks like tractor tracks on half of it. Haning saved for last what he considers one of the best features at the hotel — the fitness room, which has the pool situated in a room next to it. “I hesitate to call it a fitness room, it’s a gym,” he said. “I think the fitness center and Johnny’s sets us apart from everybody else.” The fitness room features treadmills, including one that is specifically for long-distance runners. There are also weight machines, which Haning said are not typical in a hotel. “I love this hotel. I’ve worked at a lot of hotels. This one’s special,” Haning said. For more information, call 698-3333.