|By Sharon Dunn, Greeley Tribune,
Colo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 02, 2010--The Denver hotelier who ran the former Clarion hotel in downtown Greeley through its foreclosure has plans to return it back to its former status and create Greeley's only full-service hotel and convention center.
Bruce Rahmani, owner of Colorado Hospitality Services, had been running the struggling downtown hotel at 701 8th St., since its former owners, Penta Hospitality of San Jose, Calif., walked away from it last winter and let it go to foreclosure.
Rahmani paid a cool
$1.7 million -- less than half its last sales price -- for the hotel that he had named the Plaza Hotel. There were no bidders on the hotel at its April 21 foreclosure sale.
Rahmani said it will return under the Clarion flags as the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center.
But, he admits, the hotel's troubled past was cause for concern, from prior complaints on service to the loud whistle that's blown every time a train passes through town.
"It has just a negative reputation, and everyone's hesitation to give it a chance, it worried me," Rahmani said. "I still worry about it. People get it in their mind, it's kind of hard to change that idea. Trying to get them to give me a chance will be a challenge.
"But I have confidence in myself. I've turned around many properties in conditions like this. ... I've done many hotels like that and turned around and had success."
Penta bought the hotel in February 2008 for $4 million from Arthur Cormier, who also struggled to keep the hotel running after he purchased it in 2001. Penta remodeled the hotel before a bad economy pushed them under.
Rahmani, who has owned hotels and restaurants in Denver for many years, has ambitious plans to turn the struggling property into one focused on customer service and affordable pricing on everything from a $5 lunch to almost-free wedding packages to $79-a-night rooms.
"The convention center is the key," Rahmani said. "I have hotels in Denver, and most of us live on the convention business."
Though he said he has to do little to get the hotel into mint physical condition, he does plan to expand the hotel's business center, and add an exercise room and guest laundry, in addition to offering complimentary Internet service throughout the building.
"We want people to support this," Rahmani said. "I'll do my share, and I hope the city of Greeley will give us a chance and check us out."
That's exactly what people in Greeley want, said Sarah MacQuiddy, president of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, who has watched the hotel's ups and downs through the years.
"Our hope was that there would be a local group of investors who would pick up the hotel, because they know the Greeley market, so this will be next best thing," MacQuiddy said, adding that Rahmani is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. "He's been open to constructive criticism about challenges that have faced the property. It's an anchor, and we need a full-service property to be successful, especially in downtown Greeley. Greeley wants that to happen and if he truly steps forward with his plans of improvements, it can happen."
Clarion features to be added
Hot deluxe breakfast bar
Happy hour seven days a week
Lone Ranch Steakhouse, which will open Tuesday
Stetson Sports Bar, with TVs, free pool and darts
My Express Cafe with $5 lunches
Expanded business center
Increased air conditioning for banquet rooms
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