New No-Frills, Low-Cost Hotel Open Now in Tuscaloosa
Management and staff at Tuscaloosa's newest hotel are sharply focused on getting the basics of ordinary overnight stays exactly right and not wasting time, energy or expense on anything else.
The Avid - Tuscaloosa University is open now, the latest addition to a campus of three hotels owned by Ascent Hospitality just off the McFarland Boulevard Exit from Interstate 20/59, joining their nearby LaQuina Inn and Comfort Suites.
The Avid is run by general manager James Pryor and Director of Sales Janell Colburn, who gave the Thread a tour of the hotel this week.
The concept is fairly unique to the area -- a super-modern brand with European influences likely to appeal to millennials and others looking to travel on a budget without sacrificing any quality in the core hotel stay experience. It is an affordable stay without feeling like a "cheap" hotel.
Colburn said the brand's tagline is "The Essentials Done Exceptionally Well and Consistently at a Fair Price."
Visitors to Tuscaloosa can book a clean, comfortable room without paying extra for amenities they won't use. There is no pool at the hotel, they do not offer a sprawling, hot continental breakfast and there are no fancy suites for VIPs to rent out.
"It's all about the sleep experience," Pryor said. "Blackout shades and a great bed, you go in there and you pass out. And we're just really excited about how it's turned out, what it looks like and how it will fit into the current market in Tuscaloosa - we can't wait to introduce it to our Bama Bound crowd and football crowd."
The only real extra amenity is a small but state-of-the-art fitness center with a selection of machines, weights and other equipment to for many kinds of workouts.
The lobby also features a small market stocked with interesting snacks and drinks and a free, grab-and-go breakfast area with a bean-to-cup instant coffee maker.
"Back in the day, people would spend a lot of money on the room but what we're finding out today with today's traveler is they want to save their money on lodging," Colburn said. "That's exactly what this concept was created for, for that traveler who wants a nice place to sleep but doesn't need all that extra stuff."
So instead of spending money on amenities that few people would use, Colburn said the Avid shines inside their 87 bedrooms, which only come in two layouts - a single king-sized bed or two queens.
Extremely effective blackout curtains can make the rooms dark and quiet even in broad daylight. Small design choices make the rooms feel different than other options - t here are no closets in the rooms, for instance, all replaced by hooks mounted directly to the wall. Travelers have a place to hang clothes if they need to, but the hotel has not wasted space and resources on building out 87 full-sized closets.
"I've been in the hotel industry since the early 2000s, and I really got used to selling hotels by the amenity, but this brand removes all that," Colburn said. "So it's been a challenge to learn how to sell this property but what I have found is people love this concept - just a basic, clean room without a lot of frills."
The Avid - Tuscaloosa University is open now at 3924 McFarland Boulevard East and rooms are available with a nightly price point of around $125 - those rates can change based on length of stay.
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