published Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

No tourists allowed at new 40,000-square-foot hotel in Chattanooga

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  • photo
    Construction workers Juan Nino, left, and Geoff Spiva work on the foundation of a $4.3 million hotel and restaurant being constructed on Amnicola Highway. The hotel is being built by Motel Sleepers Inc. Hospitality Solutions for Norfolk Southern Railway workers.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

Who is Motel Sleepers, Inc.?
  • Established in 1968 to provide housing for railroad crews

  • Privately owned by Leon Catlett, Roxanne Catlett and Cori Catlett

  • Has built facilities for Union Pacific, CSX Corporation and the Norfolk Southern Railroad Company, and Burlington Northern.

There's a full-blown two-story hotel under construction on Amnicola Highway, but don't try to book a room just yet.

The 40,000-square-foot building is slated to hold 102 guests, and plans call for exercise facilities, meeting rooms and a common area. An adjacent 24-hour diner will seat 50 customers and serve up "anything you can possibly imagine for breakfast," said Cori Catlett, vice president at Motel Sleepers Inc.

But the $5 million hotel won't appear on Expedia or in tourist brochures. It's for the exclusive use of railroad employees, Catlett said.

"What our company does is we provide lodging to Class 1 railroads throughout the U.S.," Catlett said.

Railroad workers are required to rest periodically between trips, but a lack of room availability or a long commute could delay an employee's rest, which in turn could delay a train, he said.

A private hotel eliminates the hassles and confusion that come from booking workers in a variety of traditional hotels, and guarantees that workers will get food and rest during stopovers in Chattanooga.

In fact, this hotel is being built specifically for Norfolk Southern. The hotel decor will be comparable to a Holiday Inn Express, he said, and the diner will be comparable in quality to an IHOP.

"They get there, they get their eight hours of rest, then they're right back up, and they've ate, showered and slept," Catlett said.

While the hotel will remain closed to the general public, the attached diner is open to everyone.

In addition to a full breakfast, Track's End will serve comfort food, salads, sandwiches, a variety of burgers and a kids menu.

One thing it won't have is cold beer.

"Our railroad employees can't have alcohol," Catlett said.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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