|By Jeff Swiatek, The Indianapolis
StarMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 08, 2012--Hoping to grab more lucrative corporate bookings, the Sheraton Indianapolis at Keystone Crossing will spend $7 million this year to upgrade its meeting space.
The project, to start in November, is among the first major renovation projects in the post-Super Bowl era for Indianapolis hotels, which invested heavily to prepare for the Feb. 5 NFL championship game and now seek new ways to boost bookings.
The upgrade to the 395-room Sheraton, near Keystone Avenue and 86th Street, calls for new seating, lighting and sound systems, along with fresh carpeting and other features. It will be complete in January.
Owned by Host Hotels, the Sheraton has two ballrooms and 26 smaller meeting rooms that were last updated in 2005, said hotel Sales and Marketing Director Angela Coner.
With a $17 million room and common area renovation completed last year, the Sheraton needs the meeting space update to attract corporate business that it hadn't focused on in the past, she said.
In recent years, the hotel has geared its group marketing to trade groups and social uses such as weddings. These aren't as lucrative as corporate bookings, which bring more guests on expense accounts instead of people paying their own way, she said.
The Sheraton's four top suburban competitors have done meeting room renovations since 2005, so the Sheraton needs to catch up, Coner said.
The Sheraton is connected by a walkway to the Fashion Mall at Keystone and to the Residences at Keystone Crossing, a 129-unit apartment tower that formerly held the hotel's suite-type rooms for long-term stays.
Sheraton turned over most of the 12-story tower to Indianapolis developer Flaherty & Collins Properties, which is nearing the end of its $8.2 million conversion of the suites into luxury apartments.
About 30 have been leased, and Flaherty & Collins expects to hit 90 percent occupancy by the end of the year, said Director of Development Services Kathy Desautels.
"It's being very well-received" by tenants, especially single professionals and people newly relocated to the area, she said.
One bonus for tenants: They get to use the hotel's pool, hot tub, fitness center and sundeck.
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