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Gutted to the Concrete Shell Following Katrina, The Gulf Towers in Biloxi Receiving a
 $25-30 million Makeover to a Non-gaming 195 room Four Points by Sheraton Hotel
By Mary Perez, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 11, 2008 - BILOXI -- The former Gulf Towers at the base of Interstate 110 on the beach in Biloxi is being transformed into a Four Points by Sheraton Hotel.

"We are pleased to announce that we have signed definitive agreements with Starwood Hotels Corporation for the license to develop and operate a Four Points by Sheraton Hotel," said H. Granville Smith Jr., managing partner of Lodging & Leisure Development Group, who estimates the project will cost $25 million to $30 million. It is the first Starwood Hotel in Mississippi, although the company owns a casino in Tunica.

"The building is currently under renovation and the opening is planned for early in 2009," said Smith. The Gulf Towers apartment building was damaged by Hurricane Katrina and was gutted to the concrete shell by the former owner. The new hotel will feature 195 guest rooms, restaurant, bar, workout facilities and meeting space. The tropical resort swimming pool will face the Mississippi Sound in front of the hotel and include a pool bar and grill.

"The project will offer many of the features of a prototypical Four Points by Sheraton along with added amenities to take advantage of the resort location of the project," Smith said.

Four Points hotels are typically tourist friendly and offer lower rates than many upscale Sheraton hotels, and extra value with free in-room bottled water, free high speed Internet access and free gyms.

Smith said the hotel "will benefit from its proximity to the casino strip in east Biloxi, which is being expanded by the construction of the Margaritaville resort." It will also be close to the city's dining and museums and be geared to families and business and leisure travelers who want another option besides staying in a casino hotel.

This hotel, owned and developed by Lodging & Leisure Development of Ocean Springs, "is the first is a series of upscale, branded properties that will be coming to the Coast to replace the hotel stock that was damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina," said Smith. "Our hope is that the development of high-quality non-casino hotel rooms will expand the tourism infrastructure that is necessary to keep Biloxi on a continuous upward trend in visitors and gaming revenues."

The company is also developing Guyton Place, a mixed-use development in downtown Ocean Springs.

Sheraton

Four Points

Where: Intersection of I-110 and U.S. 90, Biloxi, in the former Gulf Towers.

When: Opening planned in early 2009.

Who: Developed by Lodging & Leisure Development of Ocean Springs, which promises more branded hotels.

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To see more of The Sun Herald, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sunherald.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

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