Longer’s relatives of yesteryear were farmers, relying on the land for their survival.
Leonard said his family has always heeded a word of advice his grandfather, George McMan, handed down in the 1930s. At the time, McMan’s family home sat on a slice of Milan Road property where the LaQuinta Inn now sits.
“He said, ‘Never sell this land — it will one day become the Main Street of Sandusky,’” Longer said.
Truer words were never spoken.
Fast forward to 2013: A new hotel is coming to U.S. 250 in Milan Township.
The Longer family is building a Hampton Inn & Suites at 11601 U.S. 250, neighboring the Hampton Inn the family operates at that location.
The Longers have no plans to tear down the older hotel, although they may reflag it under a new brand.
The new Hampton Inn & Suites will be the Longer family’s fourth hotel.
They built their first, the current La Quinta Inn, in 1987, then built the Hampton Inn in Milan in 1994. Five years later they built the Hampton Inn on Bogart Road.
When all is said and done, the new hotel will be an $8 million undertaking, Leonard said.
The four-story, 52,000-square-foot building will feature 70 rooms, with about a third of them twice the size of a standard hotel room. Each of the larger rooms will also include a sitting room, said Gavin Longer, Leonard’s son.
The construction phase for the project will cost about $3.7 million, said John Zimmerman, Huron Township’s head building official.
A fireplace and large community table will greet guests as they enter the lobby, offering a cozy touch of home where families can gather. The hotel rooms will feature not only more space, but bigger bathrooms and bigger hallways, too.
While the hotel will have an indoor pool, a jacuzzi and a fitness room, Gavin is especially excited about an outdoor deck with a grilling area, accessible from the pool room.
“I like to grill,” Gavin said.
Natalie Longer, Leonard’s daughter, said the hotel’s meeting room can be used by guests, or booked by local businesses and residents.
Clerks at the existing Hampton Inn frequently receive phone calls from people looking to rent a meeting room, but they have to turn those customers away because that space simply doesn’t exist.
The new hotel will meet that need.
Construction begins immediately, creating labor jobs for the year. After that, the hotel will permanently employ new clerks and hospitality workers.
The Longer family expects to employ about 30 people at the new Hampton Inn & Suites.
Natalie said the family should begin accepting applications later this fall or winter.
“We’re happy we get to provide jobs,” she said.
Gavin, Natalie and Leonard’s third child, Ryan, will continue the family tradition of operating the hotels.
“If my kids were not interested in continuing the business, this would not have happened,” Leonard said of the new project. “I am so proud of all of them.”
His children have earned it, he said, working their way up from the bottom, learning every aspect of hotel management.
“I feel very fortunate, very lucky,” Natalie said.
Said Gavin: “It’s a great opportunity (and) it’s a big task. If we drop the ball somewhere, it doesn’t take much to loose guests.”
The family’s commitment to the business will ensure the new venture’s success, Ryan said.
”We have to maintain the work ethic,” Ryan said.