|By Laura Youngs, The Augusta Chronicle,
Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Nov. 14, 2006 - After a year of sanding, scraping, polishing and painting, one of Augusta's historic landmarks is ready for the public.
The Partridge Inn's first makeover in more than two decades -- redecorating rooms, overhauling the kitchen and installing wireless Internet access -- wrapped last month.
The final price tag isn't in yet, but the hotels owners have said it will be in the millions.
The hunter green carpeting has been replaced by a sage green, and soft sateen bed linens adorn the queen-sized beds. The bathrooms feature new fixtures, spa products and pedestal sinks.
Gone are the baby blue walls, which were repainted in a warm beige. But the eclectic range of furniture -- which runs the gamut from 19th century reproductions to contemporary styles -- remain.
And the bright salmon-pink exterior on the 19th-century building so familiar to Augustans has been painted over with a sunny yellow.
With all of these changes comes another one -- Jeff Brower, who was brought in as the new general manager last month.
The renovations drew on the hotel's "Golden Age" designs and Mr. Brower said the green-centered color scheme was a nod to Augusta's golf heritage and the Masters Tournament.
"It really fits in with the genteel South," he said.
The goal wasn't only to redo the physical appearance, but to bring The Partridge Inn into the high-tech era.
Wireless Internet access has been installed, computer workstations were added and conferences rooms were remodeled.
"The big overriding change is that its now business-friendly," said Mr. Brower, who has managed hotels everywhere from Sedona, Ariz., to Sausalito, Calif.
While the hotel still hosts weddings, the changes allow it to bring in conferences from all over, from education to manufacturing associations, he said.
The restaurant, formerly known as the P.I. Bar & Grill, also was overhauled and has been renamed The Verandah Grill. True to its southern heritage, Thursday's lunch menu included pulled-pork barbecue and collard greens.
While renovations added meeting space, they reduced guest room count by 14, down to 145 as a result of expanding smaller rooms, Mr. Brower said.
Of course, such improvements also means an increase in nightly rates, which have gone up about $50, starting at $149 a night.
All that remains is the $1,000-a-night penthouse, which Mr. Brower said should be redone by the Masters Tournament in April.
As the hotel prepares to hire staff and decorate for the holiday season, Mr. Brower said the renovations represent the hotel's past with modern convenience.
"One of the goals is to revitalize this great inn and this historic part of Augusta," he said.
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