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Renovation Plan Earns Rave Reviews at DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend

An extensive, top-to-bottom renovation by property owner The Hotel Group
to all guestrooms and corridors, lobby, meeting space, atrium, food and beverage outlets
and equipment is making the full-service hotel sparkle and guests smile

South Bend, Ind. — September 18, 2012 — The Hotel Group is living up to its promise to make the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend the "place to be." As owner of the 298-room property, located at 123 N. St. Joseph St., The Hotel Group (THG) constructed a model guestroom that is now on display in the hotel lobby, and it's receiving rave reviews. Renderings of enhancements to the lobby, Baker's restaurant and atrium also are garnering praise by guests, local businesses and residents who have been frequenting the property.
 
The Hotel Group is a nationally recognized Top 40 hotel company with expertise in owning and managing hotels in university markets such as South Bend. THG has a long track record of turning around distressed properties and making them profitable. The company is investing more than $8 million in the former Marriott property, giving it a clean-lined, chic, and contemporary facelift. A vibrant new restaurant concept, new business center, and added boardroom are underway, in addition to a1,500 square-foot Starbucks store with patio that will be added.
 
"The transformation that is taking place at the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend is nothing short of remarkable," said General Manager Chris Johnson. "Our model guestroom, featuring new carpeting, fabrics, and furnishings, exudes comfort and modern style, integrating  natural tones with pops of blue, gold and green reflective of the University of Notre Dame colors. Renovation progress to one of the two dedicated Hilton HHonors floors is complete, and room renovations will commence once the Notre Dame football season ends." 

Remodeled guest bathrooms are also part of the nine-story transformation, featuring new flooring, new vanities that feature back lit mirrors, upgraded terry products, amenities and more.

The design concept for the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend comes from Tracey Simpson, owner of Portland, Ore.-based IDEA (Innovative Designed Environments Associates). Using natural wood and stone throughout the property, Simpson is blending historical elements from South Bend with understated Notre Dame embellishments. When completed in Spring of 2013, the property will appeal to upscale business and leisure travelers, as well as University of Notre Dame students, guests and alumni.

"The large, two-story lobby is designed to be warm and welcoming," said Robert Lee, THG Vice President and Principal. "Dramatic walls, a variety of textures, subtle nuances of color, ambient lighting, comfortable furnishings, a food-and-beverage pantry, and WiFi throughout will create a living room feel that anyone visiting South Bend will enjoy."

The existing lobby gift shop will be converted into a business center and separate boardroom. A portion of the atrium, which connects the hotel to the 150,441-square-foot 1st Source Bank building, will be home to the new Baker's restaurant, resulting in a complete transformation of the previous Allie’s American Grille space. Baker’s Restaurant will be a three-meal eatery featuring American cuisine with an expansive soup-and-salad bar.

"The design theme for Bakers, short for Studebakers, will pay tribute to South Bend's famed classic automobile," Lee said, "as the city takes due pride as the manufacturing home of this classic car, once the bread-and-butter of South Bend in the 1950s to 1970s. The contemporary blueprint of Bakers will give a nod to the city's rich car history: booths will be upholstered to mimic cars of the 50s and 60s, hub caps will adorn a feature wall, artwork will showcase the automotive accessories, and the large central bar inspired by a classic 1950s gas station. It's a restaurant/lounge atmosphere that everyone will enjoy."

DoubleTree by Hilton is an international collection of more than 250 upscale hotels in more than 200 cities, 15 countries and five continents. In recent years DoubleTree by Hilton has reinvested more than $3 billion in amenities, services and style. The Hilton HHonors program enables members to earn both Points & Miles® for stays at 3,750 hotels worldwide and airline miles with over 50 airline partners.

For more information on the property transition, please contact Katherine Steed at (425) 248-2978.

Frequently Asked Questions:
 
Q: Why is this hotel project important to the city of South Bend?
 
THG: The DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend is one of a select few full-service hotels in the city, and the only full-service meeting and event facility in downtown South Bend. Our skywalk connection to the Century Center convention complex is vital to downtown economics, and through this rebranding and renovation, we believe the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend will help revitalize downtown as a convention destination. With more than $10 billion in tourism dollars spent annually in Indiana contributing more than $1 billion in state and local taxes, bringing the upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand to downtown South Bend will positively impact Indiana's economy.  Rebranding this property as a DoubleTree by Hilton — with its Hilton HHonors® member program, signature Sweet DreamsTM by DoubleTree Sleep Experience, DoubleTree breakfast plus the new Bakers restaurant, lobby lounge, full-service Starbucks with patio, expansive fitness center, new business center, property-wide WiFi and an added boardroom — travelers and the local community will be immediately drawn to the facility. The more customers the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend attracts, the bigger economic the impact it will make on downtown establishments and entertainment venues.
 
— Lara Latture, THG Executive Vice President and Principal 
 
Q: Who is The Hotel Group and why are they committed to this project, South Bend and DoubleTree?
 
THG: The Hotel Group is a nationally recognized Top 40 hotel company with expertise in owning and managing hotels in university markets such as South Bend. The company has a long track record of turning around distressed properties and making them profitable. Not only does THG own and manage eight Hilton properties, but we have received the Hilton Hotels "Developer of the Year” award and “Best Conversion” award for the extensive renovations of two DoubleTree by Hilton properties. These awards signify THG's commitment to Hilton standards and the DoubleTree brand. THG is also committed to retaining much of the existing hotel's staff, some of whom have been with the property for more than 30 years. In addition, THG is committed to the community, with General Manager Chris Johnson active in local Chamber of Commerce events and sitting on the Downtown South Bend Board of Directors. DoubleTree by Hilton is a global collection of upscale hotels in more than 275 gateway cities. The brand is devoted to creating a rewarding experience for its hotel guests, its team members and the communities it proudly serves -- very synergistic to the THG operating philosophy. The DoubleTree by Hilton hospitality experience begins with a warm chocolate chip cookie upon arrival and continues with an award-winning Hilton HHonors guest loyalty program and an array of fine services and amenities that will be a compelling incentive to travelers from around the world, enabling the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend to quickly dominate the market.
 
— Katherine Steed, THG Director of Marketing
 
Q:  Where is the investment coming from for this project and what is the anticipated return on investment?

THG:  THG is financing over 60%, representing more than $8 million of the rebranding and renovation project; the remainder of the renovation cost was provided through the City of South Bend’s escrow account. The return on investment will come from increased occupancy and an increase in retail spending in the city by DoubleTree by Hilton guests.
 
— Lara Latture, THG Executive Vice President and Principal
 
Q:  What is the renovation plan?
 
THG:  The DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend will receive an extensive, top-to-bottom renovation, including all guestrooms and corridors, lobby, meeting space, atrium, food and beverage outlets, and replacing mechanical equipment and HVAC units as needed. The design inspiration behind Bakers restaurant comes from Studebaker automobiles, as South Bend once served as manufacturing home to this classic car. Lobby design will take its inspiration from the University of Notre Dame, featuring subtle collegiate colors and displaying wood, books, and contemporary furnishings to fit with the overall look of the architectural elements. Other enhancements include a Starbuck's store, resurfaced pool, a lobby pantry vs. the former gift shop, and a clean-edge appearance to the atrium. A model guestroom is being constructed in the hotel lobby to showcase all design elements and furnishings. The display will be completed by August 20.

— Robert Avila, THG Director of Operations
 
Q:  What is THG's vision for this project?

THG:  The DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend will quickly become the place to be in downtown. With the atrium connecting the hotel to the 150,441-square-foot 1st Source Bank building, THG anticipates drawing significant business from building tenants, including bank employees. The new Bakers restaurant, which will feature an expansive soup-and-salad bar, is sure to be a draw for the lunch crowd, and the new contemporary lounge is very suitable for anyone getting off work and looking for a place to entertain clients or simply relax and unwind. Likewise, the addition of the new boardroom will provide an ideal location for neighboring businesses to conduct smaller meetings. Currently the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend boasts more than 150,000 square feet of conference facilities capable of hosting groups of up to 600 guests. The hotel's direct connection with the Century Center makes it the ideal destination for convention goers, and its close proximity to the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, College Football Hall of Fame and Studebaker National Museum is a draw for leisure travelers, university visitors and sports fans from around the country.

— Lara Latture, THG Executive Vice President and Principal
 
Q:  Who is running the hotel?

THG:  The DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend is operating under the day-to-day direction of General Manager Chris Johnson, a Senior THG General Manager and 24-year hospitality veteran, and the regional supervision of THG Director of Operations Robert Avila, a 22-year hospitality veteran who works directly with general managers of THG-owned properties. With professional management in place, operations at the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend will mean immediate improvements in occupancy and brand loyalty, both of which directly affect downtown economic growth. It is the goal of the entire THG team to bring in new business and surprise those familiar with the previous property.
 
— Lara Latture, THG Executive Vice President and Principal 
 
Q:  How is THG giving back to the local community?

THG:  In 2006, THG established the Good Neighbor Program to formalize its long-standing commitment to partner with non-profit organizations in communities where their hotels operate. All THG properties participate in the Good Neighbor Program and our employees are actively seeking ways to support their local communities. The DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend is no exception. To date, our hotel has donated hundreds of items, including linens and terry products, pillows, comforters, soaps, shampoos and more to charitable groups in the community. Neighboring groups receiving these items include: The Hope Rescue Mission, Center for the Homeless, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, St. Margaret's House, St. Vincent de Paul, The Upper Room and the YWCA. In the future, additional items from kitchen utensils to furnishings, fixtures and equipment will be donated to deserving charities. In addition, the DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend is the exclusive hotel sponsor of the South Bend Silver Hawks Minor League baseball club, a Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks and philanthropic supporter of the community through donations to fundraising and non-profit events.

 — Chris Johnson, DoubleTree by Hilton South Bend General Manager

About The Hotel Group
THG is a nationally recognized Top 40 hotel company and currently manages and/or owns 25 properties in 10 states, representing 10 brands and employs more than 1,600 people. Since its inception in 1984, THG has managed more than 110  properties in 20 states, directed the design and construction of 35  new hotels, completed the acquisition of more than $150 million in private investment as the sponsor of Hotel Group Opportunity Funds I, II, III and IV. For more information, visit www.thehotelgroup.com or call 425-771-1788.              
 
About DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels
With a fast-growing global collection of contemporary, upscale hotels in more than 275 gateway cities, metropolitan areas and vacation destinations across five continents, every little thing we do at DoubleTree by Hilton inspires us to create a rewarding experience for our hotel guests, our team members and the communities we proudly serve.  Our hospitality begins with a warm chocolate chip cookie welcome upon arrival and continues with the award-winning Hilton HHonors guest loyalty program, an array of fine services and amenities and our longstanding CARE Culture tradition that empowers more than 65,000 team members to provide the special comforts and acts of kindness that make the traveler feel human again.
 
To make reservations at any DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, travelers may visit our brand website at www.doubletree.com.  Social media users may connect with us at www.facebook.com/doubletree, www.twitter.com/doubletree and www.youtube.com/doubletreehotels. For the latest news, story starters and fact sheets about our brand, reporters and bloggers may visit our DoubleTree by Hilton Global Media Center at www.doubletreebyhiltonglobalmediacenter.com.
 
About Hilton Worldwide
Hilton Worldwide is the leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and mid-priced hotels. For 93 years, Hilton Worldwide has offered business and leisure travelers the finest in accommodations, service, amenities and value. The company is dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences across its global brands. Its brands are comprised of more than 3,800 hotels and timeshare properties, with 630,000 rooms in 88 countries and include Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages the world-class guest reward program Hilton HHonors®.
 
Visit www.hiltonworldwide.com for more information and connect with Hilton Worldwide at www.facebook.com/hiltonworldwide, www.twitter.com/hiltonworldwide, www.youtube.com/hiltonworldwide, www.flickr.com/hiltonworldwide and www.linkedin.com/company/hilton-worldwide.


Contact:
 
Barb Worcester
 President/Principal
PRpro
Tel: (440) 930-5770
barbw@prproconsulting.com
or
Katherine Steed
Director of Marketing
The Hotel Group
Tel: (425) 248-2978
ksteed@thehotelgroup.com


 

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