RUMFORD — A market study launched last month to recruit a brand name hotel to town produced favorable results and the recommendation for development of a 50-room hotel.
The study was researched and written by Thomas C. Blake of the northeast branch of Colliers International's PKF Consulting USA.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia's excitement about the draft document was evident at Thursday night's Board of Selectmen meeting when he shared some of the findings.
Puiia said that after local newspapers published a story about Rumford wanting to attract a brand name hotel, he received several phone calls from developers of such.
Colliers, he said, concluded in their study that a brand name hotel is viable in Rumford. They also stated that the study would help promote the development of such a project to potential developers to provide good quality lodging accommodations and support economic development in town.
Five possible hotel sites were identified along Route 2, most with frontage on either side of the highway between downtown and two miles to the west.
“Based on the potential site location and our review of the primarily competitive lodging facilities in the area, we believe the proposed hotel could incorporate more guest rooms than most of the properties identified as primarily competitive, but less than the 86-room Comfort Inn and Suites in Wilton, 28 miles east,” Puiia read.
There are currently no franchised hotels in the Bethel to Rumford area, and most offer exterior accommodations.
“As a result, we recommend the development of a good quality 50-room, interior corridor, franchise affiliated hotel that is positioned as a mid-level property offering competitive room rates and amenities that include complimentary breakfast service, indoor swimming pool and a meeting room,” Puiia said.
The document states that Rumford has high potential demand for quality lodging due to its location on the Androscoggin River in the Maine Lakes and Mountains region, and its proximity to extensive maintained and tracked snowmobile trails.
In 2008, the region attracted an estimated 2.97 million overnight visitors and 1.78 million day visitors, the document states.
Rumford's proximity to Newry and Bethel to the west and Wilton and Farmington to the east was also cited.
“This location affords visitors to the area the opportunity to take advantage of the plethora of outdoor recreation available year-round in the area and region, including two noteworthy and proximate ski areas,” the document states of Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry and Black Mountain Ski Resort in Rumford.
Additionally, Blake writes that the 100-acre site for the new 65,000-square-foot Black Bear Oxford Resort Casino, restaurant and lounge — expected to open in Dec. 2011 — is 36 miles from Rumford on Route 26.
“This development is anticipated to have a positive overall impact on the regional economy and boost visitation,” Blake said.
Colliers stated that their “outlook for the area lodging market is positive for stable levels of performance with moderate growth.”
“Based on the success of the new Comfort Inn and Suites, as well as our research of the existing lodging supply, we believe the market has historically been in part, constrained by the lack of good quality lodging supply in the market area.”
Puiia then said the study provides data about Maine snowmobile registrations, on which town officials should focus more attention.
“Non-resident registrations have increased, which bodes well for the area,” Puiia said. “From 1999 to 2000, there were 12,868 non-resident registrations.”
“In 2007-08 — eight years later — there were 26,490 registrations for non-residents, so it's huge, and we know we have a very good trail system, and we know we have a club that supports it.”
“So these are the kinds of things we should take notice of,” Puiia said, “because it could be something that Rumford stands out in, and that is snowmobiling.”
“With this many non-residents, they're looking for a place to come and enjoy themselves.”