Feels Like Home:

By Kevin Denke
Posted 10/13/09

Megan Konrad, the general manager of Brighton’s new Holiday Inn Express and Suites, just south of Platte Valley Medical Center, didn’t hit the town to celebrate her 30th birthday two …

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Feels Like Home:


Megan Konrad, the general manager of Brighton’s new Holiday Inn Express and Suites, just south of Platte Valley Medical Center, didn’t hit the town to celebrate her 30th birthday two weeks ago.

    She was busy fussing over every last detail of the building – from a shiny lobby floor to perfectly ironed bed skirts – and all the inevitable hiccups of opening a new hotel.

    “I turned 30 two days after we opened,” Konrad said. “Everybody asked me, ‘What are you doing for your 30th birthday?’ I said, ‘I’m opening a hotel. What are you doing for your birthday? I don’t have time for anything else.’”

    Konrad, a photography major and Colorado native who found work hard to find in California, made a meteoric rise in the Holiday Inn Express employment chain in about four years, from a front desk agent to a general manager.

    “It was extremely exciting and a little bit of disbelief that they were willing to give me the opportunity to run such a big hotel,” Konrad said when she found out last year she would oversee the new, 88-room hotel. “It’s a pretty great responsibility going from a front desk agent who had no hotel experience to a hotel manager.”

    Konrad feels obligated to reward their faith in her. She puts high expectations on herself and her staff.

    “This is the second hotel that the motel development company (Trisimo Brighton) has built from the ground up,” she said. “I think this one’s their prize.

    “For them to give me the responsibility to take care of it,” Konrad adds, pausing in mid-sentence, “it says something. I’m not quite sure what it says but it says something. Obviously, they trust me.”

    There is an intense, personal ownership in the new hotel for Konrad that can only come from watching once-empty rooms filled with the trappings of home or remembering when the carpeted floor of the conference room was simply a patch of dirt.

    “I’ve been in the process of this hotel from the beginning,” she said.

    The hotel is unique from the onset by the warm, homey feel of its front lobby. A snaking orange couch gives way to the backdrop of a fireplace and a fresh stack of firewood. Konrad points out empty shelves that she wants to fill with family board games and hardback books (she’ll happily take donations). It gives more of the feel of a small family-run hotel or bed and breakfast than it does a popular corporate hotel chain.

    The great room, where guests gather for a deluxe continental breakfast, is spacious enough to spread out the morning newspaper, plot day two of a family vacation or take in the morning news on a flat-panel television. The breakfast, depending on the day, offers bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs or omelettes, cinnamon rolls (Konrad raves about them), hard-boiled eggs, muffins and bagels.

    The hotel has a business center with a pair of computer workstations, high speed Internet-access (available in every room) and a printer.

    “We’re a technology world now,” Konrad said. “We don’t send snail mail. We have to send e-mail.”

    There is a large fitness area along with a pool and hot tub. Konrad said the pool is in the process of being converted to saltwater because of its health benefits.

    Rooms vary in size (there are 13 room types) from single-bed rooms to extended-stay suites. Standard amenities include wet bars with microwaves, alarm clock radios with built-in iPod docks, flat-panel televisions and granite countertops.

    Each room has a lavish but home-like feel to it. And, while Konrad dotes on each room layout, she realizes it means little without superior customer service. She is a stickler for giving customers a quality environment during their stay.

    “Customer service is so important, more than anything,” Konrad said. “If the guests aren’t here. We’re not here. We just want to make sure that they’re comfortable, they’re taken care of, that we are genuine with them and getting to know them on a personal level.”

    Konrad acknowledges that customer service has taken a back seat in many facets of life but insists they won’t follow.

    “I’m just not willing to accept that,” she said. “We want to make sure everyone is treated kindly when they come. They kind of feel like they’re at home and we are welcoming them and getting to know them. That’s everybody that walks in the hotel but especially the people that end up staying with us for weeks at a time. It’s hard to be away from home. We want to make them feel comfortable and get to know them.”

    It trickles down to room standards – notably cleanliness and appearance. Konrad’s peeve is crooked lampshades.

    “Those are those little details that are very important,” she said. “I know it sounds silly. But we just want to make sure everything’s straight and prepared for (guests) to come in. We made this room for them. The little details add up to the bigger picture.

    “It likes having a house, a big, big house,” she adds.

    She knew once she got into this business that she didn’t want to do anything else. She was drawn to the customer service aspect of the work. The prototypical angry, uneasy-to-please guest doesn’t daunt her. She sees it as a challenge for her staff.

     “What I tell the front desk agents is sometimes people can come in and maybe they’re having a bad day. That’s not a reflection of you if you turn around and treat them very well. You don’t know what they’ve been through the last eight hours, the last 14 hours. They’ve been traveling all day, had issues with airports. Maybe their flight was delayed, maybe they have a family issue going on. You don’t know where they’ve been. Treat them how you want to be treated, and you end up having an opportunity to make a difference and turn people’s days around.”

    Konrad’s tour of the new hotel ends on the balcony of a third-floor room where a gentle breeze buffers the noise of Interstate 76 traffic. In spite of the hustle and the bustle in the hotel down below and work still needing to be done, it is a peaceful and reflective moment for Konrad.

    “Every day,” she admitted with a laugh when asked if she ever wonders how she got here. “Every single day. Obviously, I must be doing something right.”

    And, if she needed a milestone to sum up her first 30 years, she’s found a much more valuable one here than a night out on the town.

    “It’s a learning process every day,” she said. “I’ve grown up more in the last three months than I have in the last three years.”

    To make a reservation, call 720-685-1500 or 1-800-Holiday or visit www.holidayinnexpress.com/brightonco.



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