|By Kevin Flowers, Erie Times-News,
Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Apr. 13, 2007 - The bayfront convention center's host hotel is nearly a year away from opening to the public -- but the man who will oversee it is already in town and at work.
Michael Kauffeld, a veteran of the hotel-management industry, has been named general manager of the 200-room Sheraton hotel, part of the $100 million bayfront convention center complex on Erie's west bayfront.
"What I've been commissioned to do is open up the Sheraton and make sure we're providing the very best experience for all our guests," Kauffeld, 46, said Thursday. "It's going to be an absolutely gorgeous facility, the finest in Erie County."
Officials from White Lodging Services Corp. of Merrillville, Ind. named Kauffeld to the position. White Lodging was chosen by the Erie County Convention Center Authority to run the eight-story hotel.
Kauffeld said he has been working at White Lodging's temporary offices on the first floor of the Modern Tool Square building, 333 State St., for several days.
"I've been meeting with leaders in the community to get things going," Kauffeld said. "I really like Erie. It's got arts, great culture and a lot of things to offer. Erie is one of the best-kept secrets around." The Sheraton, which has been plagued by weather-related construction delays, is expected to open in mid-March.
Kauffeld has 17 years' experience in hotel-related sales, marketing, operations and engineering. Most recently, he served as general manager of the Boulder Marriott Hotel in Boulder, Colo.
Kauffeld joined White Lodging in 2003 as the general manager for the SpringHill Suites Westminster in Colorado.
Within one year, the hotel was recognized as Marriott's SpringHill Suites of the Year.
Kauffeld also previously served as director of sales and marketing for the Renaissance Boulder Suites in Flatiron, Colo. Kauffeld said his wife Camille, 8-year-old son Harrison and 3-year-old daughter Caroline will move to Erie in June, when school lets out in Colorado.
"We plan to buy a house and become part of the community," Kauffeld said.
The hotel, a full-service Sheraton, was originally expected to be complete by September or October. It will feature a swimming pool, restaurant with a bar, indoor and outdoor dining, meeting rooms, an exercise room and whirlpool.
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