|By Marilyn Miller, The Akron Beacon
JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sept. 15, 2012--CUYAHOGA FALLS -- The Sheraton Suites hotel is under new management -- and it's a local company.
Rennick Andreoli, owner of RDA Hotel Management Co., has taken his interest in the Cuyahoga Falls property to the point of becoming part owner.
Andreoli has been in the hotel business for 43 years. He owns the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn and is half owner of the Hilton Double Tree, also in Fairlawn.
Built in 1989, the Cuyahoga Falls hotel is owned by the Riverside Community Urban Redevelopment Corp., made up of the original owners Tom Dillon, Eugene Fiocca, Russ Fesler and Abe Moses. A fifth business partner, Byron Fry, died in 1992.
"I am no longer a friendly competitor, but a partner. We have taken those barriers down," Andreoli said. "Our sales department will collaborate with this sales department, and our revenue-management people -- everybody -- will work together in unison. If we can't accommodate over at the Hilton a piece of business, we will try to relocate that piece of business here, or vice versa."
He said the hotels will coordinate weddings and corporate meetings so all the events get booked, noting that the Sheraton Suites showcases about 90 weddings a year because of its view of the Cuyahoga River.
RDA Hotel Management Co. also manages the Quaker Square Inn for the University of Akron and three other hotels in Ohio and Colorado.
"Rennick's company is a nice size to work with us," Dillon said. "The other one, which was out of state, was one of the biggest in the country, a good company, but a big company. We used them for the past five years."
The owners have no financial interest in RDA.
Dillon is credited for having the vision to build the Sheraton Suites. Fesler is credited for joining the venture and doing all the electrical work.
"From the day I built it, I leased it and we got a percentage of the top line, but we never knew what anything cost," Dillon said. "We did run it for a while [17 years] and not too badly, but if we had done better, we could have retired a long time ago. In retrospect, none of us [owners] had ever run a hotel before."
The owners said Andreoli is a good fit because he is successful in his other hotel ventures.
Andreoli described RDA as a boutique management company.
"We are much smaller and will give it a lot more attention than a larger company," he said. "And as the president and CEO of the management company, I personally will be on the property every day. It will get a lot of my personal attention and not some person down the ranks. We made a significant investment in the hotel.
"We want to make sure we get a return on that investment and improve the overall value of the hotel and give a return to the original investors. That's what our charge is."
Even though the hotels are 15 minutes apart, Fiocca said the markets are different.
"If we were all on Route 8 or Interstate 271, it might get a little complicated, but we are almost in two different worlds here as far as corporate business is concerned," Fiocca said. "Our business thrives from the Cuyahoga Falls corridor going north, like Kent State. It doesn't attract the West Akron business area."
Andreoli said those geographic differences helped them to be friendly competitors and not hurt each other, but the new partnership will help them share business.
"It creates a strategic alliance," he said. "The Sheraton attracts Hudson, Twinsburg and some of the southern suburbs of Cleveland, but being able to move the business to one or other properties is one of the benefits to the collaboration of partnership."
The physical plan of the hotel will remain the same. Andreoli said there will be more behind-the-scenes changes, like sales efforts and combining the food and beverage staff for events when needed to eliminate temporary help.
The Sheraton has just completed a $5 million suite renovation. Guests have free access to Wi-Fi in public areas. Rooms are equipped with LCD flat-screen televisions with an extensive selection of channels and flexible work spaces with high-speed Internet access. There is a large indoor swimming pool and fitness gym with a sauna.
"The physical footprint will never change, just a closer look at a few details," Andreoli said. "This is one of the top-performing Sheraton hotels in the world. The most recent hotel satisfaction score was 8.92, the highest in the history of the hotel. It's an award-winning hotel that is irreplaceable. This is a jewel. It is one of a kind. You can't today go out and build something like this."
He said he will be looking only at ways to improve it.
One Andreoli idea has his partners excited to pursue.
"When the two dams come down this year, there will be a wonderful white-water experience, which opens the possibility of using what we call the jetty, for an outside covered terrace to view it," Fesler said.
Falls Mayor Don Robart said that even though he has been mayor for 27 years, he still thinks of the Sheraton Suites as the new kid on the block.
"The owners have done a fabulous job there," Robart said. "Tom Dillon was a leading proponent in terms of getting the two dams taken down. I'm excited. I've known Rennick for a long time. He's a class act. He brings professionalism, and he will certainly take the Sheraton to the next level."
A few weeks into his new business venture, Andreoli walked around the Sheraton Suites, offering a few suggestions here and there.
"Bleach will clean that right up," he said, looking at part of an outside balcony. "Can we get a fan in here? And take the window out and clean it," he said in pointing out issues with the outside elevator. He also offered improvements on upgrading the lighting in the rooms and using tablecloths in the dining room for evening meals.
"The owners' charge has always been to reduce the debt and reinvest back into the property and maintain the standards and high quality that the property has always been known for," Andreoli said. "As the debt gets paid down and some of those obligations go away, they will be able to realize the fruits of their hard labor.
"I'm going to help them get there."
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c)2012 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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