WORTHINGTON -- Whether in town on business or passing through on a family vacation, Worthington's newest hotel option offers its guests spacious suites with in-room mini-fridges, microwaves and sofas, a business center, wi-fi, pool and whirlpool area and fitness room.

Comfort Suites by Choice Hotels opened June 26, off Prairie Drive north of Interstate 90, just weeks after the opening of the adjacent Worthington Event Center.

Tyler Knutson, general manager, said business has picked up at a "rapid pace" in the past two weeks, with the hotel's loyalty program members lured off the interstate.

Branded as an upper-midscale hotel, Comfort Suites features 75 rooms with a mix of king and 2-queen bed suites to sleep four to six people.

Signage was erected along U.S. 59 on Wednesday, and landscaping is nearly completed.

"The watering ban held up landscaping," said assistant general manager Julia Seykora.

Among the outdoor features are pergolas and patio seating, which she said are available for wedding photos. The event center has numerous bookings for wedding receptions already through 2014.

Hotel guests have access to a marketplace, which is a small convenience store offering soft drinks, snacks and microwaveable dinners. Overnight guests also may take advantage of the breakfast buffet, which includes waffles, hot foods and cold cereals.

A small conference room in the hotel is available not only for guests, but for community members looking for a meeting space at a nominal fee.

Knutson said the Worthington hotel is the first to open of a new prototype created for Comfort Suites. The new design features include full-wall headboards for its beds, glass-walled showers in the king suites, granite countertops for the bathroom sinks and tiled floors.

"The nice, big thing is that the hotel is attached to the events center," Knutson said.

"It's a very symbiotic relationship," added Jackie Tentinger, sales and events manager for the event center.

Events at the center have contributed to sold-out rooms at the hotel on some weekends already, and that trend is anticipated to continue.

"The event center has the capability to hold up to 500 people, and with the hotel having so many amenities, it kind of locks in the guests," Tentinger said. "A lot of brides are surprised that we're already booked for their date."

In addition to wedding receptions, Tentinger is booking numerous other events, from class and family reunions to corporate holiday parties and business meetings.

Knutson said the hotel's smaller conference room is nice for those meetings for which the larger event center rooms are too big.

"The smaller meeting room can do multimedia and conference calling," he added.

The hotel and event center have a combined staff of approximately 30 full- and part-time individuals. Some work just in the hotel, others just in the event center, and some cross over into both environments.

An open house for Comfort Suites and the Worthington Events Center is planned for Aug. 14. Rooms may be booked at the local Comfort Suites by logging on to choicehotels.com or by calling 1-800-4CHOICE. To call locally for hotel bookings or for more information about the availability of event center rooms, phone 295-9185.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.