By Jeff Higley H&MM Managing Editor
St. Louis-Instant impact. That's what Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts is shooting for with its $500 million renovation program and an aggressive growth plan that could double the size of the chain by 2003.
With 18 properties open across the eastern two-thirds of the United
States, and another scheduled to debut this fall, the St. Louis-based chain
is hoping to become a household name by increasing its presence in large
"We're very well known in the cities we're in," said Steve Williams, director of national advertising. "But outside of those areas, our name is not easily recognizable. That's the area where we need to improve." "The most important thing you have is your name," said Fred S. Kummer, president and c.e.o. "With something as personal as a place to sleep and have dinner, you have to have consistency across the board. We want to build that consistency- based product one property at a time."
The St. Louis-based hotel company, celebrating its 25th anniversary
in 1998, is a privately-held division of HBE Corp. with no intentions of
changing its direction. "We, under no circumstances, want to be in the
franchise business," said Kummer, who founded HBE as a construction company
in 1963 and has seen it grow into a
billion-dollar company that builds hospitals, medical buildings, financial facilities and hotels. "We would like to work with folks to have joint ownership of some properties, but you've got to have substantial ownership to make a hotel work."
Adam's Mark got its name from Mount Adam, located between Vail and Aspen, in Colorado, where the 68 - year-old Kummer once had grand plans to build an upscale ski resort. The resort never panned out. But the Adam's Mark brand, founded by Kummer in 1973, is beginning to spread its wings:
|The expansion of the Adam's
Mark Dallas is on schedule for opening in October 1998. With 1,844 guest
and over 230,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, the hotel will be one of the nation's largest, opening the door for bigger conventions in downtown Dallas.
On March 5, the hotel previewed new rooms and suites to the convention and visitors bureau and select transient and group clients. The guests toured a king room, an executive suite and a presidential suite, which features an 1,800 square-foot parlor, a private bar and baby grand piano. The hotel will have 23 of these spectacular suites, each with a towering view of the city.
The hotel had its "topping out" ceremony of the conference center on March 11. The three-story building will contain five ballrooms, with the Lone Star Ballroom being Texas' largest at 41,000 square feet. The final beam was signed by 50 employees and then lifted into place by a crane, while hundreds of balloons rose over downtown Dallas.
Kummer said the opening of the Denver property was a big step for Adam's
Mark, which comprises about 60 percent of HBE's business. "We gained an
enormous amount of recognition," he said. "The big hotels can get
you instant recognition." He expects the opening of the Dallas hotel to surpass that. "That hotel will attract business because of what it is," Kummer said. "It's a meeting planner's dream."
While the company has recognition in cities such as Dallas, Denver and Philadelphia, it is missing exposure in major markets such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Kummer said he's always on the lookout for an opportunity to enter those markets, but Chicago is especially intriguing to him. "I would like very much to do a hotel there, but it has to be a significant hotel," he said. "And, it must be downtown. "If you can go into Chicago with a hotel comparable to the one we have in Dallas, you'd have instant impact."
Adam's Mark traditionally converts old buildings into hotels:
"We have a reputation in the cities that we are in," he said. "Every meeting planner who is looking to plan a meeting has a good general knowledge of the hotels that would be able to accommodate their needs. We're in that group."
What makes Adam's Mark unique, according to Williams, is that it operates all of its on-property restaurants, bars and gift shops.
"We want the same consistency in all facets of the hotel, from the back of the house to the high profile positions," he said. "The best way to do that is to operate all of them yourself." "We spend a lot more money in the back of the house in support of the front of the house because we place an equal importance on both," Kummer added. "You have to deliver your product through the back of the house."
Kummer said the appeal of Adam's Mark is that it doesn't operate "cookie-cutter" hotels-a trait it will follow through any expansion efforts in the future. "We have to have something special to offer at each of our hotels," he said. "We're trying to find out how we can be identifiable without being everything to everyone. "We're going to be a significant force in every market we're in," Kummer said.