Developers bring new hotel concept to Alexander

ALEXANDER A new hotel under construction in Alexander will test a lodging concept new to the Bakken oil field when it opens later this month.

The 70-room Shut Eye Hotel is a modular, steel structure designed to go up in 90 days, and when no longer needed, be disassembled just as quickly, leaving no imprint on the environment.

It’s a perfect fit for the Bakken, according to Chris Cooper, vice president of project development for Banyan Investment Group, which is collaborating with Proteus On-Demand to build the hotel. He said the attractiveness of the concept lies in the ability to erect a building quickly to meet an existing demand and easily withdraw if the demand goes away. The concept is popular in Europe but is new to the United States.

The hotel is the first North Dakota project for Banyan Investment Group, a Florida hotel investment company whose 35 years of experience in developing and managing properties have been primarily in the southeastern United States. Proteus On-Demand, a Georgia company, is an industry leader in the construction and management of semi-permanent structures.

Rather than sitting on a typical foundation, the Shut Eye Hotel is a bolted-together building with type of floating floor that requires no pavement or concrete. Construction started at the end of October. Contractors are completing finishing work inside the new hotel, which is expected to be open by the end of January.

The developers wanted a name for the new hotel that was casual and comfortable. The Shut Eye seemed “open and welcoming and friendly,” Cooper said.

Developers note that building will be stylish not the boxy, container structure that some might envision. They say the finished structure will compare to traditional construction, only at a fraction of the cost. The building is heavily insulated for North Dakota’s climate, Cooper said.

Each guest room will have a flat-screen television, in-room mini-refrigerator, full-size bed, individual climate control and private bathroom. The property will feature amenities such as complimentary daily buffet breakfast, wireless Internet, daily housekeeping and 24-hour onsite innkeeper.

Cooper said the Shut Eye will accept long-term and short-term guests. The hotel already has an operating phone line at 400-3098 and is accepting bookings.

“We have had a number of calls,” Cooper said. “There’s a lot of interest.”

The company is prepared to put up an adjacent second hotel if the demand exists, he said.

“We are open to opportunity in the whole Bakken region to put up more,” he said.

The company chose to place its first hotel in Alexander for a variety of reasons, including the city’s central location to Watford City, Williston and Sidney, Mont.

“We looked at where the need was,” Cooper said. Hotels have been springing up in cities throughout the Bakken region, although concentrated in the larger communities. Alexander, with an official population count of 223 in 2010, has swelled to about 1,100 people with housing moved into the area to accommodate the oil boom.

Cooper said the City of Alexander and McKenzie County have been helpful in getting the project going. The hotel is located on leased property on the edge of town.