Over the past several months, Cobblestone Hotels has pumped about $2 million into a complete interior and exterior renovation of the former Badger Hotel in Merrill. Cobblestone introduced the overhauled hotel under its Boarders Inn & Suites brand during a ribbon cutting and open house on Wednesday.
“This was a complete gut,” said general manager Michael Krueger. “Everything is new in the hotel.”
Cobblestone purchased the facility in September 2017 and immediately started on exterior work including the roof, parking lot and landscaping. The hotel stayed open during the renovation, which was completed in early January after just over three months of work. During the interior remodel, the old furnishings were removed and given away to anyone who wanted them.
The Merrill Boarders is considered a mid-scale hotel, featuring 57 rooms, all with refrigerator and microwave. The alarm clocks have USB ports built in, useful for charging cell phones. Boarders also has a “Save the Planet” program, so that multi-night guests can choose to not have their bedding replaced every day.
The hotel’s former bar has been replaced with a breakfast buffet. Boarders offers a free complete hot breakfast to guests every morning, including eggs, meat, waffles, danishes, whole fruit, yogurt, cereal, juices and coffee.
A convenience store area is available in the lobby, where guests can grab a quick meal or snack such as frozen pizzas, TV dinners and ice cream. A large beverage cooler is also available, rather than vending machines.
The banquet hall, which can accommodate gatherings of up to 70 people, has been popular with the community, Krueger said. In the past 10 days, they’ve booked eight events in the hall, he added.
“This is probably the biggest need we’re filling in the community,” Krueger said. “The demand is certainly there.”
What was formerly a hot tub area next to the banquet hall has been converted into an exercise room.
Based in Neenah, Wis., Cobblestone started with one hotel in 2008 and now has 83 hotels open to date, with others in the works.
Most of Cobblestone’s hotels are new construction, bearing the Cobblestone brand. The purchase and renovation of the Badger Hotel marks a new focus on the Boarders Inn & Suites brand, which involves the conversion of existing hotels. The Merrill property, built as a Super 8 about 25 years ago, was the 14th conversio
n in the Cobblestone system. These are typically in smaller communities where building another brand new hotel doesn’t make sense. The Boarders slogan is “small town values, big city quality.”
Boarders offers the Cobblestone Rewards program, similar to those offered by other major hotel chains.