Local outlet of regional hotel chain may become part of national group
By Sherry conohan
WEST LONG BRANCH — The McIntosh Inn, a modest hostelry sandwiched between two automobile dealerships on Route 36, is about to undergo a makeover and perhaps join a national chain.
The inn, a tad worn since opening in 1986, plans to reduce the number of sleeping rooms from 119 to 84, spruce up the facade and entrance, and add a swimming pool and sun deck at the rear of the building. Parking spaces are to be reduced and landscaping expanded.
Terence O’Leary, vice president for development of McIntosh Inns, a regional chain based in King of Prussia, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, said the inn in this borough hasn’t struck a deal with any franchise operation as yet but is talking to the likes of Hilton and Holiday Inn.
The plans that McIntosh submitted to the Zoning Board of Adjustment showed the refurbished building with a sign on it for Marriott Fairfield Inns and Suites.
The motel currently charges $49 to $69 per night for its rooms.
The Zoning Board at its meeting on Oct. 25 granted McIntosh all the approvals it sought for the four-story motor inn: preliminary and final site plan approval, a reduction in rooms below 100, a continuation of its width variance allowing a lot 242 feet wide when 300 feet are required in the industrial/commercial zone, a sign variance and, the most distinctive, a height variance.
The board added a couple of requirements of its own: that a storage building at the rear of the property be completely, rather than partially, screened by bushes and that a tree be added to the landscape design.
The height variance will allow the McIntosh Inn to construct a parapet two stories higher than the present roof. The present roof line is 36 feet off the ground while the top of the proposed parapet will be 54 feet, 5 inches.
William E. Fitzgerald, a professional engineer with an address in West Long Branch, appearing on behalf of McIntosh Inns, said the company wanted to make the parapet that high to meet the requirements of the most demanding franchise with which it might strike a deal. He said it was strictly for the facade and appearance and would have no interior space.
Fitzgerald said McIntosh was talking to four or five national franchises, but has no contract yet, so the parapet needed to be the highest that any of those franchises would want. He said McIntosh wasn’t aiming for the upper end or the lower end in franchises, but for something in between.
Michael F. Kauker, a licensed planner from Wyckoff in Bergen County, said the reduction in the number of rooms would enable the remaining rooms to be enlarged and suites to be created. Testifying before the Zoning Board for McIntosh Inns, Kauker said the reduction in the number of rooms would enhance the use of the motel and called the application a quality proposal.
Fitzgerald said other improvements planned include sheathing the building in a new "skin" of synthetic stucco and expanding the canopy on the west side into a wider porte-cochère.
The number of parking places will be reduced to 115, he added.
"It’s really a positive application in that the building will be modernized," he said.
The plans don’t call for adding a kitchen or dining room, but O’Leary said it is contemplated that a pantry with refrigeration would be carved out to enable a continental breakfast to be served. He said an outdoor seating area would be created for hotel guests to use for breakfast in good weather.
When board members asked about pool hours, expressing concern about noise, O’Leary said he had no problem with closing the pool at 10 p.m. and not letting guests use it earlier than 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning. He said the early morning swimmers weren’t likely to make noise.
The pool is planned to be off the southeast corner of the building, the same location as approved in a previous application in 1991, the McIntosh team told the Zoning Board.
O’Leary did not say when the changes would take place, but Myrtle Jones, the manager of the McIntosh Inn on Route 36, said later they wouldn’t occur for a while. She said McIntosh Inns is a privately owned company of Middleton Tobacco, whose owner is John S. Middleton.
"Things are going to stay the way they are," she said, for now. "There won’t be any change until September."
The McIntosh Inns directory lists 14 motels and hotels in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. It says the room types they offer are double, queen, queen deluxe and king deluxe.
McIntosh Inns also offers what it calls its "5 C Promise," a commitment to cost, cleanliness, convenience, comfort and courtesy.
"Value is our hallmark," the directory says. "Guests often ask, ‘How can you offer so much for so little?’ Well, oversized lobbies, crystal chandeliers, large conference rooms and mints on the pillows — all things which add to a room’s cost — add nothing to a good night’s sleep.
"So you won’t find them at McIntosh Inns," the directory continues. "What you will find are furnishings and mattresses comparable to those in the highest-priced hotels. You also will save with free local phone calls, no hotel surcharge for long distance calls, and special rates for companies, senior citizens, government and military travelers."