News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Deborah Crowe, Ventura County Star, Calif.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 17, 2004 - The Radisson Hotel in Oxnard is undergoing a $2.4 million renovation in preparation for its conversion to a Courtyard by Marriott this spring. The makeover is one of the most prominent renovations occurring at several of the city's hotels amid stepped-up competition for business and leisure travelers with nearby Ventura hotels, which have spruced up their facilities in the past two years.
The 163-room hotel, owned by Sunstone Hotels Investors LLC of San Clemente, opened in 1978 as a Hilton. It will be the second Courtyard by Marriott in Ventura County. The other is in Camarillo, owned by another developer.
Marriott also is the brand name on three other area hotels: the Ventura Beach Marriott, the Residence Inn in Oxnard and the Renaissance in Agoura Hills. The soon-to-be Courtyard hotel is expanding to 167 guest rooms and transforming its sports bar into a rosewood-paneled executive lounge and business center, as well as other amenities.
The $129-a-night base room rate is expected to remain for now, said general manager Patrick Mullin. Courtyards are geared toward short-term-stay business travelers who want comfortable rooms where they can get work done. Rooms feature large desks with complimentary high-speed Internet access, as well as public areas that offer club-style lounges, business centers and small conference rooms.
To meet Courtyard specifications, the Radisson is reducing meeting space from 12,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet by converting meeting rooms at the west end of the building into guest rooms. A guest laundry will be added, as well as a snack-and-toiletry shop adjacent to the front desk. The Plaza Grill in the hotel's conference center already has switched to a hot breakfast buffet, typical of a Courtyard.
But unlike most Courtyards, the restaurant will continue offering full-service lunch and dinner, plus evening room service. Mullin anticipates the renovation will be far enough along by late April or early May that the hotel can be inspected by Marriott, and the name change become official. Guest room renovations will continue through the fall.
While the hotel will be strongly focused on the business traveler, Mullin said he expects to retain repeat business from family vacationers as well as bookings for community events. The hotel long has been the host for the city's Rotary, Kiwanis and Soroptimist service clubs.
"We intend to maintain our place in the community," Mullin said.
Sunstone Hotels, which specializes in the acquisition of underperforming upscale and mid-price hotels, bought the Oxnard Hilton for $9.3 million in 1998 and later converted it to a Radisson. Calls to company officials seeking comment were not returned. The company has a strong relationship with Marriott, with nearly 40 percent of its 59 listed hotels under a Marriott brand, according to its Web site.
The company was named Marriott's Developer of the Year in 1998. Sunstone's other Ventura County property, the extended-stay Residence Inn by Marriott at River Ridge, was renamed from a Radisson Suites Hotel in 1997. That hotel also is scheduled to undergo major guest-room remodeling later this year, according to hotel general manager Doug Pflaumer, although a date and budget have not been announced.
In other Oxnard hotel upgrades, the 70-room Vagabond Inn is putting finishing touches on a $300,000 renovation, including new security, refrigerators, microwaves, granite countertops, tile, carpet and bed spreads.
A separate project to remodel the public areas may begin by year's-end, according to general manager Mary Beth Campbell-O'Donnell. The Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort has begun the landscaping portion of a $4 million remodel of guest rooms, the restaurant and public areas. The Casa Sirena Hotel at Channel Islands Harbor also is updating its rooms.
Susan Koehler, sales and marketing manager at Embassy Suites, said it's not unusual for hotels to embark on major refurbishings every six years or so if money is available. All the activity comes at a good time for the area's tourism industry, she said.
"The fact of the matter is that the Oxnard-Ventura area is being more known as a wonderful option for a weekend getaway or regional business event, so all the renovations happening at the same time just adds to the desirability of the area," Koehler said.
-----To see more of the Ventura County Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.insidevc.com
(c) 2004, Ventura County Star, Calif. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. MAR, SSI, HLT,