|By Mella McEwen, Midland
Reporter-Telegram, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 28, 2012--A new marquee will light up downtown Midland next month.
By April 30, the Hilton Midland Plaza will be known as the Doubletree by Hilton Midland Plaza, accompanied by renovations to the entire property.
General Manager Keith Dial said the renovations investment will be significant but did not have a specific dollar figure because the company stil is taking bids. "We will address every surface in the building," he said. Work will be done by local contractors, he said.
He said the move was made as Hilton moved to focus on primary markets globally and in the U.S., such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami. At the same time, Hilton wanted to reposition its Doubletree brand as a more upscale business-class facility.
"Doubletree is more like who we are," Dial said. "It's customer-centric with a common touch; our West Texas hospitality will fit right in with this brand."
Dial said he is excited about the move, and Anne Sparks, director of operations, agreed.
"It will be good for the building, it will be good for the staff and it will be particularly good for our clients," she said. She added the operating standards between the Hilton and Doubletree brands are identical in most ways.
Sparks, who has been with the Hilton Midland Plaza nine years, said the property has been extremely fortunate because its core staff has been with the hotel long-term, and she expects that trend to remain.
Aileen Manuel, director of sales and marketing, noted that even though the brand will change, the hotel still will be part of the Hilton portfolio and will continue to participate in the Hilton Honors rewards program. Half the hotel's clients use that program, she said.
Renovations will begin in early April before the new signage goes up and will focus on the hotel's guest rooms, Dial said. He described the room decor as more modern with brighter colors and feature new carpeting, drapes, lighting, art work, safes and closet door assemblies. The rooms are expected to be completed by August.
"The rooms are really our product," he explained. "That's where our profit margin lies, and we believe that's the first thing we should address."
In late summer or early fall, work will begin on the lobby and dining and bar facilities. The Starbucks will be moved and expanded into a combination grab-and-go Starbucks and gift shop. Dining will have five different dining room concepts. There will be a private dining room featuring glassed-in walls and a sidewalk cafe concept. The larger dining room will have casual seating and counter seating. What is now a meeting room inside the restaurant will become a private dining room that can be cordoned off. A new buffet will be located in what is now Executive Room C.
What was a spa and the current bar will be expanded to the south lobby and become part of a new lounge that Dial described as an adult game room with billiards, darts, foosball and a cigar enclosure designed to be brighter and with a younger, more urban feel.
"Our use has been ferocious," he said. "Our business in 2008 was one thing, and in 2009 we had a breather no one wanted, but we managed to do well. Last year was strong, but this year has been just nuts. February had 29 days, but it was the best month in the history of this building."
Mella McEwen can be reached at email@example.com.
(c)2012 the Reporter-Telegram (Midland, Texas)
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