SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Sioux Falls Regional Airport is planning to add its first onsite hotel rooms to cater to the out-of-town traveler looking to catch a good night's rest before an early flight.
The four-story hotel, to be built to the north of the terminal, will offer 74 rooms, most of which are smaller efficiencies featuring queen size beds, flat-screen TVs and fold down work stations, said Dan Letellier, the airport's executive director.
"Your target group is here for a very short-term stay," Letellier said. "They're coming in at 10 o'clock at night and leaving at 5 or 6 in the morning."
The Sioux Falls Regional Airport Authority board approved a 30-year lease for the hotel, which will be built and run by Sioux Falls-based U.S. Hotel & Resort Management Inc., a Ramkota Companies subsidiary. The firm, which manages Ramkota and ClubHouse Suites properties, will pay the airport 8 percent of the hotel's revenue, which should generate at least $100,000 in rent, Letellier said.
Construction is expected to begin in June with opening planned for February or March 2015.
Greg Schjodt, president of the Ramkota Companies, said the firm has been studying airport hotels in major metro areas and decided that Sioux Falls has grown enough to warrant one.
"We saw a regional airport that has really taken hold here," Schjodt said.
Sioux Falls Regional Airport draws from a 60- to 70-mile radius, and passengers scheduled for early departures are already driving into the city to stay at off-site hotels, Letellier said. The rooms also would be of benefit to passengers of delayed and canceled flights.
About 20 of the 74 rooms will be standard size, but all will have amenities as good as or better than upscale hotel rooms, Schjodt said.
Sioux Falls set a record for boardings last year with more than 453,000 passengers flying out of the airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. That's despite the airport being closed four weekends because of renovations to a runway.
To accommodate the growing numbers, the airport over the past few years has renovated and expanded its ticketing area, its terminal restaurant and its gate-side seating and vendor offerings. Crews also have to build an additional 800-space long-term parking lot, which comes in handy in January-March when hordes of South Dakotans escape to warmer climates, Letellier said.
Schjodt says the improvements have helped create the need for on-site rooms.
"They're starting to draw from such a wide area now," Schjodt said. "They're creating the draw."
The airport also has plans to extend the buffer for one of its runways, and officials want to expand the passenger screening area beyond the current two lanes to improve flow during peak times and provided expedited access to pre-approved low-risk travelers.
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