A new Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites is coming to Decorah.
Developer Rebound Hospitality of Northfield, Minn. plans to build an 80-room Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites after demolishing the Bluffs Inn, located off Highway 9 on the south side of Decorah. Rebound also manages the Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah.
“Rebound Hospitality is very pleased to have been approved by the Marriott Corporation as a franchisee for a Fairfield Inn and Suites on the Bluffs Inn site in Decorah. The site is in need of a significant renovation, and the hotel will bring it to its highest and best use,” said Rebound President and CEO Brett Reese.
Reese and other Rebound representatives met with Marriott corporate officials at the company’s headquarters in Washington D.C. recently on Rebound’s franchise application. Rebound received word the application had been approved Friday afternoon.
“When I was a student at Luther College, The Cliff House (now Bluffs Inn) was the place to stay and have a great dinner. However, over the years it has deteriorated into its current state and condition,” Reese said.
“A Fairfield Inn by Marriott will be a great asset and addition to the Decorah community, and the guests that stay there, driving business into the community. Our hope is that this project can be a catalyst for further economic development in Decorah,” Reese said.

‘Thrilled’
Reese isn’t the only party involved with the new hotel with ties to Decorah and Luther College.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson is a Luther graduate and said he’s “thrilled” to know the project in Decorah will become a reality.
“As Marriott’s CEO, it is obviously gratifying to me to have a property in Decorah. What makes this doubly satisfying is that my wife Ruth Christenson and I both have such deep connections to Decorah. Ruth went to High School in Decorah graduating in 1977, when her father Paul Christenson was the pastor at First Lutheran Church,” he said.
“Paul and Lois Christenson were also owners of the Whippy Dip, where Ruth and all her siblings worked, and very active with the early years of the Nordic Dancers. I went to Luther College, graduating in 1980, following my father Morris Sorenson (Class of 1949), my grandfathers Morris Sorenson (Class of 1920) and Otto Austin (Class of 1912) and preceding my son Lars Sorenson (now a junior at Luther in the Class of 2017). I remember the Cliff House well from my years in Decorah and know that the location has always deserved a quality hotel. I can’t wait for it to open, just in time for my son’s graduation assuming he keeps his head down,” Sorenson said.

Council agreement
In November, the Decorah City Council approved a development agreement for the hotel project, which calls for the city to provide up to $1.5 million in property tax rebates over a 10-year period. The rebates are tied to Rebound meeting certain requirements, such as a minimum property tax assessment of $4.5 million, the creation of at least 15 full time equivalant jobs and adhering to a construction schedule.
Decorah Jobs, a volunteer organization that focuses on encouraging and supporting new business within the greater Decorah area, has pledged $500,000 from its share of city hotel motel tax proceeds for site preparation for the new hotel.
“Working with the city of Decorah and its staff, the mayor and City Council, Winneshiek County Development Inc. (WCDI), Decorah Jobs, the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce, the Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Decorah Bank and Trust, Luther College, key individuals and the community has been a real pleasure, and we are very thankful for their support and encouragement of the project. The Fairfield Inn in Decorah would not be in the works without it. Rebound Hospitality is grateful and will work hard in the project becoming a reality and a benefit to its guests and the community,” Reese said.

Suspension
The State Department of Inspections and Appeals suspended the Bluffs Inn’s license for hotel operation and food and beverage service after an inspection in March.
In addition to demolishing the Bluffs Inn, Rebound is proposing to develop two commercial lots suitable for restaurant or office use in conjunction with the project. The total cost is estimated to be at least $11 million, including land purchase, demolition and extensive site work, and hotel construction.
Now that the franchise agreement has been approved, the land will be purchased, demolition will begin and construction could start in May or June. The new hotel could be open sometime in 2017.
“We are extremely excited for Rebound to develop, own and manage the new Fairfield Inn and Suites,” said WCDI Director and Decorah Jobs Secretary Stephanie Fromm.
“The city of Decorah was in need of additional lodging, according to a recent feasibility study, so we are excited that Rebound was willing and able to satisfy that need in the community. This project not only benefits the city of Decorah, but also Winneshiek County and our entire region of Iowa. WCDI is happy to have played a role.”