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Hyatt Plans to Spend $25,000 per Room to Convert about
 150 AmeriSuites Properties to Hyatt Place Hotels
By Mike Pramik, The Columbus Dispatch, OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

Sep. 18, 2006 --Hyatt Corp. is rolling out a hotel concept at two central Ohio properties, a strategy that's aimed at a younger crowd. Hyatt acquired 161 AmeriSuites hotels early this year and is converting nearly all of them to Hyatt Place hotels. Construction will begin in October on the AmeriSuites at 6161 Park Center Circle N. in Columbus, near the Mall at Tuttle Crossing.

The other AmeriSuites in central Ohio, at 7490 Vantage Dr. in Worthington, will be converted in 2007.

Hyatt Place is a limited-service concept that is designed to compete with Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard by Marriott, said Richard Morgan, managing director of Hyatt subsidiary Select Hotels.

Morgan said the concept is to "stay like you live," so Hyatt Place will eschew traditional hotel fixtures such as the check-in desk. Instead, travelers will register at kiosks stocked with beer and wine and staffed by employees using mobile - Bluetooth-enabled phones.

Hyatt Place rooms, which will run about $100 to $125, will feature:

-- 42-inch plasma televisions. 

-- "Cozy corners," which will include a sectional sleeper sofa that will be partially hidden from the rest of the room by a divider.

-- A wet bar-area designed in "colors as  you would see in your home."

"The select-service field has gotten fairly stale in our opinion," Morgan said. "We think people's lives have moved on from what I would describe as a very vanilla product out there." 

The hotel also will offer a continental breakfast, 24-hour food service, free Internet access and the same beds and bedding available at higher-priced Hyatt properties.

Select Hotels owns the Hyatt Place brand. Morgan said the company plans to spend $25,000 per room to convert each of about 150 AmeriSuites properties. The investment in the two central Ohio hotels will be more than $6 million.

Morgan said that once Hyatt converts existing AmeriSuites hotels it will seek to build others. Hyatt paid more than $600 million for the AmeriSuites properties.

"We controlled the economics immediately," he said. "(Expansion) will be a little faster than you'll see when a company grows one hotel at a time."

Another hotel revamping

In Dublin, the owner of the Clarion Hotel plans to be flying the Crowne Plaza flag by New Year's Day.

Bill Wolfe, with Castrop Wolfe Development, said he decided to make the change after running the property as a Clarion for the past two years.

"The hotel is profitable. However, our market penetration is not at the level that we want," Wolfe said.

Castrop Wolfe spent $3 million fixing up the Clarion, including renovation of the bar and construction of a patio. Now, it'll spend an additional $1.1 million to switch to Crowne Plaza.

Wolfe said the changes will allow the company to raise its daily rate from the low $80s to more than $100.


Mike Pramik covers development for The Dispatch. Contact him at mpramik@dispatch.com or by fax at 614-461-5107.

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

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