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Board to Sell Off Unusable Items
From Radisson During Switch to Sheraton 

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (April 27, 2005) -- Need some slightly used bed comforters? How about a large Radisson sign?

If so, the Myrtle Beach Hotel Board Corp. has a deal for you.

The board is unloading items that can't be used by the new operator of the city-financed hotel. Sheraton is replacing Radisson and plans to be in place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center hotel by June 1. A system for folks to buy the leftover merchandise hasn't been set yet.

There's a lot to change at the hotel while attorneys hammer out the final details of Sheraton's contract. The outdoor signs must go. The bathroom soap and hair conditioner in all 402 guest rooms must be swapped. Even the tissue boxes aren't useable; Sheraton has a special cover.

The cost of converting the hotel to meet Sheraton's standards adds up to nearly $1 million. The Hotel Board, which has no money, is borrowing up to $949,673 from Sheraton to cover the costs. The loan comes with 10 percent annual interest and no payments for the next five years as the hotel aims to turn around its sluggish performance.

Sheraton is keeping the beds and window curtains, two big-ticket items leaders had thought the chain would want replaced.

"It's expensive but not as bad as we feared," said Walt Standish, Hotel Board Corp. chairman. "I don't know that there is any way to get it any lower."

Trying to pinch pennies, the board plans to gather a list of useable goods and start showing off the inventory to prospective buyers in the next few weeks. The bed linens, pillows and comforters already are on the list.

Corporate officials are trying to find another Radisson that could use all the branded items and put the large, outdoor "Radisson" signs to good use.

Officials don't know how much money the sale could generate to offset the changeover costs. But any money, they say, will help.

"I think it is going to be minimal," Standish said. "But if we can get something out of it, at the end of the day it is worth it."

The biggest cost, $229,976, is to switch the computer systems and train employees on the Sheraton network. It is unclear how much turnover in the staff the change will create.

Replacing the bed linens, pillows and comforters will cost $213,221. New signs will cost $163,147.

Still, Sheraton is impressed with the hotel and isn't changing as much as it has in other takeovers, said Jim Alderman, a senior vice president with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which owns the Sheraton brand.

"This is really a well-done property," he said. "It's rare that Sheraton could show up and have very little changes."

Sheraton shaved quite a bit off the changeover costs by certifying the current, two-year-old beds instead of buying new Sheraton Sweet Sleeper mattresses. That's rare for a chain that is so proud of its beds they are the focus of Sheraton advertisements.

"It's the first time I've seen it," Alderman said.

COSTS

The switch will cost $949,673. Sheraton is lending that money to the Hotel Board Corp., which oversees the hotel for the city.
Information technology -- $229,976
Bed linens, pillows, comforters -- $213,221
Signage -- $163,147
Marketing, sales promotion -- $67,797
Bathroom amenities -- $54,532
Guest room amenities -- $53,069
Uniforms -- $50,132
Training -- $17,615
Human resources -- $14,674
Food and beverage -- $10,471
Other -- $75,039

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Copyright (c) 2005, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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