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256-room Charleston House Hotel in Charleston, West Virginia Picks up Ramada Brand;
Now Identified as Ramada Inn Charleston

By George Hohmann, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

March 28, 2011--CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Charleston House hotel is now operating under the Ramada Inn brand.

The 256-room hotel faces Haddad Riverfront Park. It carried the Holiday Inn logo until November. It is now listed on the Ramada Inn website and the manager's voicemail identifies the property as the "Ramada Inn Charleston."

Acquiring the brand gives the Charleston House access to Ramada's nationwide reservation system. As an unbranded property, it was operating at a competitive disadvantage.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said, "I think having the Ramada brand will definitely help them obtain more customers. Having a franchise brand is better for almost every hotel."

GF Management of Philadelphia has been managing the 12-story hotel in recent months. GF Management still lists the hotel on its website. But Charleston House is the company's only listing that does not have a link to a separate website or reservation system.

Joseph Russo, an executive with GF Management, did not return a call requesting comment. Dale Jordan, the hotel's manager, also did not return a call.

The area's only other Ramada-branded property, the Ramada Plaza at 400 2nd Ave. in South Charleston, continues to be on the Ramada Inn website. Somewhat confusingly it, too, is listed as the "Ramada Charleston."

RidgeLine Inc. owns the Ramada Plaza in South Charleston, the adjacent Wingate, and the Hampton Inn at Southridge. The Rashid family owns RidgeLine.

Georgette Rashid George, RidgeLine's manager, was asked if two hotels can operate so close together under the Ramada brand. "Yes, just as there are different Marriott and Holiday products, different McDonald's and Wendy's franchises in the same market," she said.

Asked if the Ramada Plaza in South Charleston is going to become a Holiday Inn-branded property, George replied, "We're always exploring the opportunities out there."

George issued a prepared statement that noted the Rashid family is a part of the Charleston community. "We've invested almost $7 million in our properties over the past few years and plan to continue our investment in these properties," she said. "We want our hotels to be the premier facilities in the marketplace, which will attract the very best opportunities for the area.

"We're always exploring ways to better position our hotels and continue to assess whether the brands we have are the best suited for our needs as well as the needs of our community. We are approached by brands regularly and we take these options seriously. Our goal is to align ourselves with growth brands, forward-looking brands that are in the forefront of providing the best and most current hospitality services to travelers in this market."

CWCapital Asset Management, a holding company that owns the Charleston House, has reportedly asked $6 million for the property, which includes a 258-space parking garage and 12,000 square feet of meeting space.

It was previously reported that consultants have estimated it would cost $12 million to $15 million to renovate the hotel.

A deal to sell the Charleston House to a Florida-based company fell through in December. In February Mayor Jones told the Sunday Gazette-Mail he had been talking to two prospective buyers.

Jones has said the Charleston House is critical to the city's downtown and convention business. "This hotel has as much potential as any hotel property in West Virginia," he said last month. "We just need to find the right owner. We can't afford to let this thing go."

Contact writer George Hohmann at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.

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To see more of the Charleston Daily Mail, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dailymail.com.

Copyright (c) 2011, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com. NYSE:JNY,



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