The Lakes Region’s first large-scale, brand-name hotel finally is scheduled to open later this month.

Wells-based Heyland Development is preparing to hold a “soft rollout” of the 58-room, three-story Microtel Inn & Suites on Route 302 in North Windham on Wednesday, March 25, at a Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting event.

The scheduled opening comes after nearly eight years of delays due primarily to permitting and financing-related obstacles. In recent months, delayed fabric and furniture orders, as well as extreme winter weather, have pushed back the opening.

When construction began last spring, Erik Heyland, the owner of Heyland Development and the Microtel Inn & Suites in York, said the Windham Microtel would open by Jan. 1, at the latest. In early January, Heyland pushed back the rollout to mid-February due to a backup of fabric and furniture orders. But nearly constant snowstorms since January, Heyland said, have caused further delays.

“Given the winter, it just caused some problems in getting guys here,” Heyland said. “Contractors had a difficult time getting in because of the snow. Furniture vendors were delayed. They were from out of state, so they were delayed arriving and getting started and finishing.”

But the end is very near, Heyland said. The furniture is in place and construction mostly completed.

“For the most part it’s cleaning up and finishing, setting up computer systems, reservation systems, getting everything working properly before we go live,” Heyland said.

Following the anticipated March 25 ribbon-cutting, Heyland said, he is planning a grand opening during the first week of April.

The March 25 event is open to the public, not just chamber members, said Aimee Senatore, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. According to Senatore, Heyland’s experience is not unique. A harsh winter has depressed business activity across the region, she said.

“Winter has definitely been tough on business around here, yes,” Senatore said. “I think the cold temperatures and the amount of snow, at least from a retail perspective, has kept people away.

“Everything has been down because people have been dealing with cleanup and removal and things of that nature,” she added. “People are definitely looking forward to spring – that’s for sure.”

Heyland first approached the town in 2007 with a similar project and received Planning Board approval. The 2008 financial meltdown affected the project’s financing, according to Heyland. But following a lengthy period of “non-business-friendly financing,” Heyland said, he moved forward with the hotel, once again receiving Planning Board approval in January 2013.

The 35,000-square-foot hotel features an indoor pool and a business meeting room, and will offer customers free wireless Internet and free breakfast. Heyland said the building is considered a “hotel,” since it has interior hallways that allow customers to access their rooms from indoors. The hotel will remain open every day, year-round. Room rates range from $80 to $200, Heyland said, depending on the room size and the time of year. Heyland said he plans to expand the 58-room hotel to 74 rooms within two years.

Heyland is in the process of hiring 15 full- and part-time employees. Heyland declined to provide details on employee pay and benefits. The hotel will eventually employ 20 to 25 full- and part-time employees, Heyland said.

Tom Bartell, executive director of the Windham Economic Development Corp. and the town’s economic development director, said the Microtel opening marks a new era for the Windham lodging market.

“We’re anxiously waiting,” he said. “Obviously we’re very happy that we’ll be having a hotel in the region. It will be a great addition.”

Despite the repeated delays, Heyland said he is satisfied with the length of the construction process so far.

“Construction started in May,” he said. “It’s not too bad. Ten months out is about right.”

Microtel Inn & Suites owner ?Erik Heyland? ??says?? ?the long-awaited “soft rollout” of the 58-room? facility? in North Windham? is March 25.? ?Staff photo by Ezra SilkErik Heyland, the owner of York-based Heyland Development, and Louie Desruisseaux, a Sanford subcontractor, prepare for the long-awaited “soft rollout” on March 25.

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