|By Cassie Smith, The Eagle, Bryan,
TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
October 1, 2009 - The LaSalle Hotel is under new management.
Magnolia Hotels took charge of the seven-story landmark in downtown Bryan on Thursday.
Visitors won't see significant changes immediately, officials said, but the company does plan to make adjustments to how the hotel is promoted.
The Bryan City Council in August hired the Denver-based hotel management and development company on a five-year contract to spruce up the city-owned property.
The goal, officials said, is to make the hotel attractive to a buyer so that the city can sell it.
The 55-room hotel at 120 S. Main St. originally opened in 1928 and had been managed since 2001 by Lane Hospitality, which owns the Hilton Hotel in College Station.
The name is being changed from the LaSalle Hotel and Cafe to the LaSalle Hotel by Magnolia Hotels.
Mike Pratt, Magnolia's vice president of sales and marketing, said most of the work this past month has involved the technological side of the hotel. Pratt said officials have been working to install a property management system and train employees to use it. They've also been working to update the hotel's Web site, which should debut by the end of next month, he said.
"We're going to do everything we can to make sure it exceeds the city's expectations and the residents' expectations," he said.
The noticeable part of the transition will be in marketing, he said. The management team has been trying to make sure the LaSalle can be easily found through Internet searches, and there will be a large Internet and e-mail marketing campaign soon, he said.
"The hotel is not presently on a lot of the wholesale and third-party channels," he said.
The city bought the hotel in a foreclosure sale for $1.2 million in September 2001. Bryan had lent $4 million to private owner Morgan Hill in 2000 for hotel renovation and operating costs. Hill defaulted on a loan from a bank.
LaSalle's new management team said it was confident that it could make the hotel a success.
Pratt said the company's president, project manager and a designer had been examining the hotel to create a renovation plan. They also have been working on getting new uniforms and name tags for the employees, which should be in place in the next few weeks, he said.
"We're doing a lot of property management training, like on how to run the systems," he said.
Magnolia Hotels plans to update the hotel's bedding and decor and possibly expand the restaurant by offering patio seating and a bar area. The company also plans to replace all guest-room televisions with flat-screen models.
Rates at the hotel start around $99 for a standard room and $140 to $150 for suites.
Magnolia Hotels also operates hotels in Denver, Dallas, Houston and Omaha, Neb.
"We're excited about having a third property in Texas. The city has been nothing but fantastic to work with," Pratt said.
He said renovations also would include amenities that can be found at other Magnolia locations, such as a complimentary breakfast, an evening beer and wine reception and a bedtime cookie buffet.
"One of our big things is that staying with us, doing business with us and making reservations with us is really easy," he said.
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