Budget hotel chain Travelodge has officially opened its first hotel in Sittingbourne.
The new branch – part of the Spirit of Sittingbourne multi-million pound regeneration project – is the company’s 589th hotel and its 16th in Kent.
It is the first business to start trading in the new Bourne Place leisure quarter, opposite the town's railway station.
The 63-bed hotel building was paid for by Swale council and has created 15 new jobs.
The rooms, which are said to have a "sleep-inducing colour palette", also include an en-suite bathroom, a 32 inch TV, tea and coffee making facilities and Wifi.
Michael Johnstone, Travelodge, district manager for Kent said: “We are delighted to celebrate 20 years of trading in Kent by opening our first hotel in Sittingbourne which is the company’s 589th Travelodge.
"Over the last three decades, Travelodge has become symbolic for being the low cost choice for business and leisure travellers visiting the area and with opening of Sittingbourne Travelodge we now operate 16 hotels across the county.”
"Sittingbourne Travelodge is located in the heart of the town centre by the train station and will certainly be a magnet to attract new visitors to the area.
"This is great news for the local economy too, as our research shows customers will spend double their room rate during their stay with local businesses which equates to an annual boost of £2 million for the local economy.”
Cllr Roger Truelove (Lab), leader of Swale council, said: "Having such a recognisable brand as Travelodge opening in Sittingbourne is a real boost for the town.
"Not only are they creating jobs for local people, but they are helping attract visitors into the town, supporting other local businesses.”
Rob Sloper, a spokesman for the Spirit of Sittingbourne said: “We are delighted to see the Travelodge in Sittingbourne town centre open to the public.
"Visitors to the town are now able to stay over in a well-recognised national chain hotel, immediately opposite the train station, with great connectivity in and around the wider area.
"The new hotel marks the first in a series of openings in the Bourne Place leisure quarter, as our vision of a regenerated, destination town, comes to fruition.”
The branch is being managed by Susan Ezzi, who joined the company nine years ago as a receptionist.
She joined the company in 2011 at Canterbury Chaucer Central Travelodge and within two years secured a place on the in-house management programme.
After a year, she graduated into a management position and got her first management role as an assistant manager in Maidstone Travelodge in 2014 and moved into a hotel manager position at Whitstable.
"I never imagined when I started with Travelodge as a receptionist that one day I would be managing a brand new hotel which is also the town’s first Travelodge."
She received more than 1,500 applications for the 15 positions she advertised at Sittingbourne and recruited her team in just one week.
She said: “I never imagined when I started with Travelodge as a receptionist that one day I would be managing a brand new hotel which is also the town’s first Travelodge. It’s certainly a dream come true.
“I am very proud to have built a fantastic team who are as passionate as me about delivering great customer service.
"I am looking forward to developing my team and giving them the same opportunities that I was given so that they can successfully climb the career ladder and become hotel manager of the future.”