|By Grant Martin, The Island Packet,
Hilton Head Island, S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 02, 2012--When the Beach House, a Holiday Inn Resort, unveiled its $5 million re-branding in March, it left the Crowne Plaza as the only one of Hilton Head Island's five beachside hotels without a recent major renovation.
That won't be the case much longer.
The resort's new management promises an overhaul and re-branding beginning April 27.
On that day, the hotel will become Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island, in the first of what Sonesta president Stephanie Sonnabend said will be extensive changes to the property.
"We'll be embarking on a full renovation," she said, adding that her Boston-based company will change all of the hotel's 340 rooms and halls.
She declined to speculate how much Sonesta would invest in the property, saying that much of the overhaul remains unplanned. Architects and designers will visit the hotel in the coming weeks to determine the company's options, she said.
Meanwhile, Sonesta said it will retain all of the Crowne Plaza's employees, which number 275 during peak tourism season.Sonnabend said it was important to re-brand the hotel in April, before the height of the tourist season, although its renovation may not begin for several months.
"We're very excited about being there for the start of the summer," she said. "That was important to us."
She said the most immediate changes would be brought about by an "extensive training service for employees, showing them how to interact in a 'Sonesta style' with our guests."
She added that new furniture and umbrellas by the hotel's pool would be installed by April 27.
Sonnabend said the hotel's current rate structure would remain "virtually unchanged," and she expects the property to become one of the island's most elegant and luxurious.The impending renovation reflects a surge of confidence in the area, Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce president Bill Miles said.
"We've got a lot of momentum across the board," Miles said, pointing to investments in the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort and Westin Hilton Head Resort and Spa.
Miles said the renovations will benefit visitors and residents alike.
"If visitors are coming here first and having an upgraded experience, it sets the tone and shows a feeling of confidence in this area," Miles said. "We're very excited about this."
Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.
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