WorkinCT: Developer breathes new life into Fairfield’s Hotel Hi Ho

FAIRFIELD -- When you’re driving on the Merritt Parkway, the iconic Hi Ho sign lets you know you’re in Fairfield.

“That sign is burned into my brain as a little kid in the back of my parents’ car, driving north to Bridgeport and seeing that neon sign meant we were only a couple of exits away from home,” said Edward Gormbley, Managing Partner for Workforce Partners.

Over the decades, that sign, much like the Hi Ho Motel, fell into disrepair. Gormbley said it was screaming at him to rehabilitate it, so when the property came up for sale, he was there the next day. Three years and millions of dollars later, Hotel Hi Ho, as it’s now called, looks like a revamped property.

“On the outside, we replaced all the concrete walkways that ring the property,” said Gormbley.

The inside of each of the 40 rooms was also redone from top to bottom.

“We retained the nostalgia of the old hotel, with the modern conveniences of today’s hotel. You’ll start with a very deep, plush bed, custom furniture throughout, vintage cheer, a la 1960’s,” said Gormbley.

While the décor is described as a shabby chic nod to the 60’s, the technology is futuristic, allowing guests a virtual experience as soon as they arrive.

“Some guests don’t want to have to deal with anybody else. They want to be able to get an electronic experience where they can check in and have it completely seamless. This allows you do to that,” he said.

At Hotel Hi Ho, there’s no one at the front desk. Instead, when you check in you can either use your cell phone or use the kiosk.

“So when someone books a room here, they will get a code texted to their phone with a number that they plug into their room,” said Gormbley. “This is an electronic kiosk that a guest can use to check out of their room at the end of their stay.”

There are still employees on site, so if you run into a problem, they’re around. Some of them have been with the hotel for decades, but that’s about the only thing you’ll recognize when you step inside.

Rooms can range from $125 to $250 per night, depending on the time of year. The hotel says it caters to business travelers, families and the local universities in Fairfield.