|By Jamie Herzlich, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Aug. 12, 2004 - Long Island will get its first Hyatt hotel next week when the Wyndham Wind Watch Hotel in Hauppauge is reflagged as the Hyatt Regency Wind Watch Long Island. Moreover, the new owner of the hotel plans to pump millions of dollars into improvement at the property.
Hyatt officials confirmed yesterday that the 360-room hotel, the Island's third largest, is scheduled to be rebranded next Thursday.
Chicago-based Hyatt will manage the property for Highland Hospitality Corp., the McLean, Va.-based real estate investment trust that is buying the property from Dallas-based Wyndham International, said Jerry B. Lewin, divisional vice president of Hyatt in Manhattan.
Highland officials declined to comment on the reflagging, saying the company wouldn't make any announcements until after it closed on its acquisition of the property. "We anticipate closing within the next 15 days," said Sean Dell'Orto, senior director of corporate finance for Highland Hospitality.
But Lewin said along with the name change will come improvements worth $8.5 million to $10 million over the next 12 months, including full wireless Internet connectivity throughout the 15-year-old property.
With the improvements, room rates are expected to go up, but how much hasn't been determined, he said.
A check with the Wyndham reservation system showed a room available for Monday for as low as $126 a night, compared with the nearby Islandia Marriott Long Island, which had rooms for the same night starting at $229. The rebranding could also bring a more upscale clientele to the property.
"I think the Hyatt brand is a very strong brand name with very strong national name recognition," said John Fox, senior vice president of PKF Consulting, a hotel consultancy in Manhattan. "It's not a luxury brand like the Four Seasons or Ritz, but it's definitely upscale."
In the Northeast, Hyatt's name is more "well known" than Wyndham's, said Robert Lipper, editorial director of Island Publications, a Newsday subsidiary that tracks local hotels.
Hyatt, which has 211 hotels and resorts around the world, said it is also scouting other opportunities on Long Island. Two months ago, Computer Associates founder Charles Wang proposed building a new community in Plainview called Old Plainview that would include a 300-room Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Lewin says he doesn't think the proposed Plainview project would compete with the Hauppauge property, noting that in such places as Washington, D.C., Hyatt has nine area hotels.
"Everything is attractive about Long Island," said Lewin. "It's a very dense area with a lot of corporate businesses and a lot of individual travelers."
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