WHEELING - The Ohio Valley is on the road to becoming a "bedroom" community based on the number of additional hotel and motel facilities that have been built in the local region.
In addition to serving visitors to the many conventions, entertainment attractions, sporting events and festivals the Ohio Valley offers each year, the new lodging facilities are filling the housing needs of out-of-state gas and oil industry workers. As the Utica and Marcellus shale natural gas pockets are being tapped, hundreds of workers from across the country have landed in local communities. These workers are now occupying the new hotels and motels.
In St. Clairsville, a new 85-room Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham sits adjacent to the Hampton Inn near the Ohio Valley Mall. At last check, the facility is accommodating its fair share of gas and oil workers in addition to visitors.
Photos by Heather Ziegler
A number of new hotels have opened over the past few years, primarily to service the natural gas industry. Most area hotels are at or near capacity, providing a much-needed economic boost to the region. In Ohio County, the boom in hotel stays is leading to increased hotel/motel tax collections.
The Hampton Inn has been serving the St. Clairsville area for many years, dating back to its days as a Sheraton property. It, too, welcomes the influx of natural gas industry workers
On National Road, a new Comfort Inn sits between Blaine and St. Clairsville. This 55-room motel replaces an older motel that had been at the location for decades. Pick-up trucks and other work vehicles can be seen in the parking lot, an indication of some of the lodgers there.
Another Belmont County hotel, the 63-room Sleep Inn, is slated to be up and running soon. It is located near Valley Harley-Davidson and the Bel-Morr Market along Ohio 149 near Belmont. A new Days Inn is located just off Interstate 70 at Morristown. The hotel offers a heated outdoor swimming pool, free continental breakfast and other amenities for guests, whether nightly or long-term. The facility provides guest laundry facilities and ample parking for cars, trucks, buses and RVs.
In Ohio County, the new 123-room Hampton Inn & Suites is now open at The Highlands, as is the nearby Microtel Inn & Suites, the Suburban Extended Stay Hotel and a new Holiday Inn Express. All of these accommodations include amenities popular for extended stay guests including pipeliners, frackers, truckers and other natural gas industry workers. The 120-room Suburban provides a locker in addition to weekly and monthly rates.
Many of the new hotels and motels provide laundry facilities, mini kitchen accommodations and even outdoor picnic areas. Free continental breakfasts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, exercise facilities and Internet access are just some of the services available to guests at most lodgings.
The Hampton Inn in Woodsdale has been so successful that the owners are planning to add two additional stories and up to 35 parking spaces at a cost of $5 million to $6 million. The hotel has been named as one of the best Hamptons in the world, according to customer surveys.
The Springhill Suites, also in Woodsdale, has enjoyed success with its 115 rooms that offer all the modern amenities, breakfast buffet, laundry facilities and more.
In downtown Wheeling, the McLure House, a landmark hotel at 12th and Market streets, is riding the wave of the gas and oil boom as it serves as home to many workers in the industry. Its a common sight to see the various pickup trucks bearing out-of-state license plates lining Market Street near the hotel as the workers end their work day.
Many of the new hotels and motels offer amenities aimed at attracting the industry workers including outdoor hoses to wash off muddy boots and laundry services. Many of the facilities are equipped with kitchenettes and even outdoor picnic facilities.
Business owners in Moundsville were happy to greet a new Sleep Inn in the city in 2013. Located along Walmart Drive, the Sleep Inn opens the door for more potential customers to visit other businesses in the area. Moundsville Mayor Eugene Saunders said he thinks the new hotel is one of the best things ever to happen for the city.