After a rough start during construction — when the framed building blew down in a windstorm — a new hotel has opened its doors next to the Quad-City International Airport.

The Hampton Inn Suites held a “soft opening” last week, without announcing the opening to the public, and the 98-room facility already is drawing customers, said local developer and part-owner Todd Raufeisen.

In fact, when Raufeisen returned from a business trip this week, he overhead people at the airport talking about the hotel — and was pleased to see a parking lot full of cars as he drove past.

“We’ve had a real solid response,” he said. “We’re very pleased with our investment. It’s nice to see, after everything we’ve been through, to see the finished product.”

An open three-story lobby greets visitors to the hotel, which has spacious hotel rooms and 30 suites complete with microwave, refrigerators, wet bars, couches and tables and other amenities, said Keith Osborne, chief operating officer of Hospitality Specialists of Jacksonville, Ill., which manages the site.

A 1,000-square-foot meeting room also is available for use, with room to hold a reception for about 100 people, company meetings and other small events.

He added that the hotel’s color scheme of eggplant, gold and green is new for Hospitality Specialists, which manages 23 other hotels throughout the Midwest.

This hotel is the only Hilton brand facility on the Illinois side of the Quad-Cities, Osborne said, after a former Hampton hotel near the airport was converted into an Econo Lodge.

Hotel officials expect to draw the majority of their business from corporate visitors, but also anticipate that people visiting the area for leisure will stay at the facility — particularly because of its location so close to the airport.

“People flying in there will now be able to stay right there, and that makes it easy when dropping off the rental car,” Osborne said. “We have a shuttle to pick people up from front door, and it is walkable, when it’s not winter.”

Construction on the property began in September 2005, but faced delays when the building blew over in March.

Now, with the hotel finally open, operators are planning a grand opening within the next 45-60 days, Osborne said.

Raufeisen declined to say how much the project cost, but officials previously said it would cost about $7 million to develop the hotel on about 2.5 acres of vacant ground that housed a Ramada Inn before the airport purchased and demolished it to make way for its new entrance road.

Q-C Air Lodging LLC will lease the property from the airport. Q-C Air Lodging LLC is a partnership of Hawkini, a Quad-City development company, and Hospitality Specialists, a hotel development and management company owned by John and Jim Mann. Rau-feisen is a partner in Hawkini.

Under a lease negotiated earlier with the Metropolitan Airport Authority, Q-C International’s governing board, Q-C Air Lodging will pay the airport 7.5 percent of the appraised value of the land or 2 percent of the gross receipts, whichever is larger. Airport officials have said the hotel could generate $40,000 annually for the airport.

The hotel employs about 30 people.

“I think people will really be pleased with what we brought to the area,” Osborne said.

Kay Luna can be contacted at (563) 383-2323 or