Chamber Spotlight on Business: AmericInn of Merrill
MERRILL, WI – The Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce has announced that their Spotlight on Business for is AmericInn by Wyndham located at 3300 East Main Street, Merrill. It is locally owned by Gary and Mary Schwartz and the long time General Manager is Ernie Stender.
The first indication that the Merrill AmericInn was making its mark in the hospitality industry was with favorable reviews on Trip Advisor. Former Manager Russ Grefe was quite pleased to achieve the Trip Advisor “Best of” designation in the Greater Wausau Wisconsin area!
Grefe remembered the April 2010 Tornado that ravaged homes and property in Merrill and Lincoln County. He called Gary and Mary Schwartz who were out of town, relaying the devastating news. Grefe recalls Schwartz saying, “Do what needs to be done; help however the hotel can.” That’s how the Merrill AmericInn became the Home Away from Home for many displaced families.
In 2012, AmericInn’s required schedule called for updating the original 45 rooms and replacing the linens; Grefe hated the thought of just discarding such a quantity of still good linens. Verna Schwartz was a member of the Mission Sewers of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. They were the grateful recipients of several pickup truckloads of linens. “The sheets were dyed for the backing, the Velux blankets became the batting and the bedspreads were colorful warm tops to these blankets”, remarked Kathi Peterson, then Chair of this volunteer group that makes quilts donated to Lutheran World Relief.
This tradition of helping continues with now Manager Ernie Stender. In 2017 the beautiful lobby decorated for the holiday’s joined the efforts of the Tree of Hope. A photo with Santa in this Christmas Wonderland was free with the donation of a new toy or cash donation. Held every year and continues to grow as the Merrill Fire Dept picks up the toys & cash donations.
Arby’s and Pine Ridge Mobil are part of the Christmas Spirit too and graciously match the cash donation.
Soon, organizers of the Prom and Peppermint Dances asked to use the gorgeous setting of the lobby for photos. They’re graciously accommodated to use the lobby that is always decorated for the season as a backdrop for their photos. Even the parking lot of the hotel has been used by the community! MHS Students have held car washes grateful that the AmericInn donated the water.
The tradition of excellence continues! December 2017 brought the opening of an additional 20 rooms: some Extended Stay Suites, an elevator and a second foyer! It provides another service to the traveler as the Merrill AmericInn continues to upgrade and meet the needs of their guests.
Despite 2020 being a very difficult year for the lodging and entire hospitality industry, the Merrill hotel joined the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association. It remains open 24/7 to meet you and our guests needs. Nationwide 40% of all unemployment caused by CoVId-19 pandemic was in the Hospitality and Lodging industry. In WI the lodging industry lost 18,700 jobs. However, the Merrill AmericInn continues to look to a bright future for Merrill and Lincoln County.
Due to the recent pandemic of Covid-19, our elderly with needs at Park Place and Jenny Towers found it difficult to shop for basics due to the need to isolate and the lack of transportation to get to the stores. Upon hearing this, Stender organized the Comfort and Care Drive. The hotel became a drop-off location for food and paper products for the disadvantaged during the Spring of 2020.
The Merrill Area Housing Authority received an estimated 2000 items that were collected and stored at the Hotel. The cash that was collected was donated to St Vincent’s Outreach. The initial amount of $1,600 was matched by Arby’s and Pine Ridge Mobil too! An astonishing $4000 was raised by the Comfort and Care Drive and donated to St. Vincent’s.
AmericInn’s Community Room continues to host many family parties and organizational events. The swimming pool hosts birthday parties as well as youth groups.