|By Trevor Anderson, Spartanburg
Herald-Journal, S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 6, 2009--Ron Scott's 30-year career in the hospitality industry has taken him all over the continent.
As a troubleshooter for many of the world's most popular hotel chains, such as Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Sheraton and Quality Inn, the Cayman Islands-born businessman has contributed to the development of hotels from Jamaica to Canada.
Scott now has his sights set on revamping a hotel in Spartanburg that once operated at the heart of the county's budding industrial sector.
The principal of Spartanburg Hospitality Management LLC, founded in July 2008 to rejuvenate the 224-room Country Hearth Inn at 200 International Drive, Scott is working to polish the hotel's appearance -- and its reputation.
"This property has a lot of potential," he said. "That's not something I say lightly. Not many hotels I have worked with have had the facilities that this one has."
Originally built in the late 1960s as a Holiday Inn and later converted to a Holidome in 1978, Scott said the hotel began to fall into a state of disrepair in the late 1990s after the new I-85 corridor through Spartanburg opened, drying up customer traffic along the Business 85 artery.
Other factors that contributed to its decline were changes in ownership and the conversion of some of the hotel's buildings to extended stay lodgings, which averaged about 90 percent occupancy but were used as permanent housing by those who took up residence instead of the intended temporary stays.
"There were a lot of problems here when I first came," Scott said. "People were allowed to live here without being checked, and the sheriff's department was well aware of some activities that were going on here."
He said the first thing he resolved to do was to oust the troublemakers. Then he started to clean up the property and has kept it up and running on income generated from visitors.
Working off the hotel's existing amenities, including an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, banquet hall, lounge, landscaped atrium and full-service restaurant, Scott has added some other services he hopes will draw more customers.
He recently added a workout room, laundry room, sauna, business center and free wireless Internet access.
Scott said he hopes to change the hotel to a Quality Inn, or another name affiliated with larger hotel chains. He has 25 employees.
"We're not quite where I'd like to be," he said. "Everything is kind of hinging on the economy right now, but I think it will eventually succeed."
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