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The Final Phase of St. John's Golf & Conference Center in Plymouth, Michigan
Set to Open - the 118 room  Inn at St. John's


By Sylvia Rector, Detroit Free Press
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Plymouth Twp. luxury inn almost ready for guests

It completes St. John's project

January 6, 2006 - A luxurious 118-room boutique hotel, the Inn at St. John's, is slated to open Jan. 16 in Plymouth Township, offering deluxe amenities that include two-story presidential suites; a pool with a waterfall and lazy river, and a high-end restaurant under the direction of well-known Northville chef Tom MacKinnon.

It's the final phase of St. John's Golf & Conference Center -- a resort, retreat and meeting complex built in 1998 that incorporated the former St. John's Catholic seminary. With the hotel's opening this month, the entire development will be renamed the Inn at St. John's.

"This really completes our project here," said Brian Barton of Hotel Investment Services Inc., the company that manages the property. "We have over 45,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space without a hotel," so guests at the 220-plus weddings it hosts annually had to be shuttled to other hotels in the area, he said. "They couldn't sleep anywhere on our property, so we had to send that business away to nearby hotels," he said.

Barton said the hotel's investors do not want to reveal its cost, nor do they want to be identified. But the investors have a long-standing relationship with the Catholic Archdiocese, which owns the 198-acre property, including the 27-hole golf course, Barton said.

Although it hasn't yet opened, the entire hotel has been booked for months by a single client -- not the owner -- for Super Bowl XL, sales director Tawnya Johnson said this week, showing off the facility with executive chef MacKinnon.

She declined to identify the client company, but she said it is flying in its own clients and guests from around the world and will have the hotel to itself for "quite a party."

The hotel is a virtual showroom of beautiful carpeting and rich natural materials including travertine, limestone, granite and marble. In the dining room and martini bar at Five, the Inn's high-end restaurant, the upholsteries are suede, leather and ostrich skin. The restaurant and bar open onto a large brick patio with views of the grounds and the brick Romanesque-style buildings, topped with red tiles.

"It feels like being in Europe," said MacKinnon, who turned over his MacKinnon's Restaurant in Northville to his son so he could join St. John's. He directs at least five separate kitchens and oversees all food services, from room service to the largest banquets.

The hotel features 22 executive suites, two single-story ambassador suites and the two-story presidential suites, which include full kitchens. But guests need not trouble themselves to cook; chefs will come to the room to prepare a meal for them if they wish, MacKinnon said.

Barton said the hotel's main competitors are the market leaders in the Plymouth-Livonia-Northville area, he said. The presidential suites go for $699 on weekend nights.

"It looks very luxurious, but I think it is more unique than luxurious," he said. Not being part of a chain lets it avoid a "cookie-cutter feel," he said.

Unlike many hotels, the Inn won't depend on tourist traffic and out-of-town convention business.

"We have a captive audience, and we feel very good about our weekend business," he said, referring to the wedding parties. In addition, two major office parks are located nearby and their businesses are regular users of St. John's meeting and conference rooms.

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Copyright (c) 2006, Detroit Free Press

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