Changes for the better were in the works in 2011 at the corner of Quinault Dr. NE and Queets Dr. NE in Lacey.

That’s when a Vancouver, Washington development group revealed their plans to built a new BEST WESTERN PLUS Inn & Suites at the former truck stop site there.

The $6 million, 47,000­square­foot project took three years from when the property owners submitted the idea to to Lacey’s community development department in 2008 to get the go­-ahead, then one more year to build. When the hotel opened in early 2012, it added not just a huge boost to the local economy but also a convenient, quiet and comfortable business and leisure traveler haven with all the extra amenities.

“That’s my favorite part about working here,” says sales manager Silvia Torres, who has moved up from the front desk to sales manager in her two years at the hotel. “It’s the surprise on people’s faces when they see how beautiful it is, and all of the features we have here.”

The four ­story hotel is indeed beautiful, starting from the moment you step into the sleek, elegant lobby. As a protoype for the new “Atrea” style of BEST WESTERN the company is testing, the Lacey property has a modern, classy ambience throughout. The high-ceilinged entryway is graced with a crystal chandelier and abstract art on the walls. A cozy sitting area takes up one space; a pretty table and chairs occupies another. Dried plants and other natural items are used as accents throughout. A balcony above the shining wooden front desk overlooks the whole scene.

The hotel, in fact, has that “brand new” feel still, with fresh carpeting, soft Northwest colors that still look fresh, and sparkling windows. In the 85 rooms and suites, the appearance is spacious and light­filled, with everything from the furnishings to the bed covers and accent pillows crisp and contemporary. There’s a business desk in each, and the 22 suites provide extra bedrooms and/or seating areas. The front desk is open 24 hours, with a multilingual staff that can help with any request.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the hotel, though — given that it’s set on one of the busiest corners in the area and right next to I­5 — is that it is absolutely quiet inside. There is a feeling of peacefulness, much like a spa, but one with modern touches to for travelers.

Many of the hotel’s guests are indeed in the area on business, Torres says. The upscale feel of the Atrea style resonates with their needs for style and luxury with a relaxing feel while they’re on the road.

Other large markets are sports teams with tournaments at the Lacey Recreational Athletic Complex, Skyhawk Park and other regional fields, and leisure travelers exploring the area. They enjoy the hotel more for the pool and jacuzzi, the workout room with upgraded equipment, the laundry and the large dining area with a bountiful free hot breakfast each morning.

General manager Tonya Jones, who has been there just a few months, said that her favorite part of working for the BEST WESTERN is the challenge of putting everything together each day. With 30 employees, she says that customer service is paramount, and she enjoys finding ways to go the additional miles to make her guests happy.

“Every day is different. Every day is fun, and exciting,” she says. “It’s not like any other job I’ve ever had, and I’m really enjoying it.”

Another key asset for the hotel, she adds, is the 1,200 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate up to 120 people. In the coming months, the team is planning to promote the space more for area events and meetings. The latest addition is snack options: Event planners can choose from several items and drinks to provide for guests, anything from granola bars, fruit and sweets to juice, water and more.

Besides that space, there’s also a modern business center adjacent to the lobby, and free Internet. The South Sound business community will get to see it all in action first­hand in just two weeks, when the Thurston County Chamber hosts its Business After Hours networking event there on March 19.

With comfort, quiet, high­quality service and convenience at the forefront, there’s still another reason the BEST WESTERN PLUS is a top choice for travelers with business or sightseeing to do anywhere from Seattle to Portland: the convenient location.

“We’re right off the highway, so you can get to and from Olympia and Tacoma in a flash,” Jones emphasizes. “As as far as anything you might need while you’re here, we’re right in the main shopping area with restaurants, fast food, banking and retailers. Even Costco is right next door.”

The BEST WESTERN PLUS Lacey Inn & Suites is located at 8326 Quinault Dr. NE. For more information, see bestwesternwashington.com. For details on the March 19 Thurston Chamber of Commerce event, see thurstonchamber.com/events.