|By Mike Pramik, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jun. 5, 2004 - A central Ohio company has acquired the Dublin Wyndham Hotel for $5.3 million and is repositioning it under the Clarion Hotel flag.
Castrop Wolfe Development Co., a Dublin hotel owner-manager that has 16 properties in its portfolio, will spend $3 million over the next 18 months to upgrade the Clarion Hotel-Dublin, said William Wolfe, principal of Castrop Wolfe's property-management company.
Wyndham acquired the 24-year-old property, then called the Stouffer Renaissance, in 1996 from a partnership that included Dave Thomas, the late founder of Wendy's International. Wyndham recently sought a buyer for the hotel, which reported a drop in business since newer, bigger hotels opened in Dublin.
"The hotel has not been improved for a number of years, and we believe by re-flagging it, we will be able to bring it back to one of the prominent hotels in Dublin,'' Wolfe said yesterday.
He picked a good time to unveil the Clarion brand. With the Memorial Tournament under way, this week, demand is high. The 14 hotels in Dublin are running at 93 percent occupancy, said Scott Dring, executive director of the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Dring said the Wyndham, with 217 rooms, had reported that its share of the business-travel market declined in recent years as a result of newer, larger competitors nearby. Embassy Suites, with 303 rooms, opened in 2000, and Marriott Northwest, with 284 rooms, was built in 1997.
Wyndham Dublin last year trailed those two in occupancy at 60 percent compared with 64 percent for Embassy Suites and 63.6 percent for Marriott Northwest.
David Sangree, director of hospitality consulting for Cleveland-based US Realty Consultants, said a bigger problem is that the former Wyndham also had lower average room rates.
Sangree said he thinks the Clarion will have to work hard to attract business customers because the hospitality industry regards Clarion as a midscale hotel while Wyndham is an upscale brand.
Clarion is part of Choice Hotels International, the second-largest hotel franchiser in the United States. Its other brands include Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, EconoLodge and Rodeway Inn.
"Many people are willing to consider Wyndham and Embassy equally,'' Sangree said. "As a Clarion, some people might not consider that.
"But it's a nice hotel.'' Wolfe said he thinks planned improvements will put the Clarion Hotel-Dublin on par with its larger competitors. Room upgrades will include high-speed Internet access, new furniture, bigger televisions, and separate cordless phones and speaker phones. His company also plans to remodel the hotel's restaurant and bar and build a business center.
The property, which has 13,000 square feet of meeting space, also will get a new roof, and the parking lot will be repaved. Wyndham General Manager Carrie Richards is remaining with the hotel.
"Anytime any (owner) comes in and puts $3 million into a property for enhancements, that's nothing but good for us,'' Dring said. "I'm not sure the Wyndham took away a lot of business headed to the Marriott and Embassy.'' Local hotels are trying to make a comeback after tough going in the year after the 2001 terrorist attack. Demand for rooms grew by 2.5 percent in 2003, slightly faster than supply. The average daily rate fell slightly to $71.10.
Castrop Wolfe also owns and operates the Holiday Inn Express on Hudson Avenue. Its other properties are spread throughout Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
"We believe Clarion is lower upscale,'' Wolfe said. "Given the investment that Marriott and Embassy have made, we can accept a lesser average daily room rate and still do very, very well.''
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