Jan. 14--Hotels continue to be hot properties in Rochester, with a pair of prominent ones, including the iconic Fiksdal Hotel, recently selling for $13.7 million.

U.S. Hotel and Resort Management Inc., a subsidiary of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Ramkota Cos. Inc., bought the Fiksdal Hotel and the adjacent Aspen Suites from primary owner Blue Stem Capital, also of Sioux Falls, and minority stockholder Glen Fiksdal, of Rochester. The sale closed on Dec. 27, according to Olmsted County records.

U.S. Hotel affiliate Regency Hotel Management will operate and manage both hotels.

"There will be significant improvements to both properties in 2014. We're all very excited about that," said Laurel Schacht, the general manager of both hotels.

Aspen Suites underwent a $750,000 renovation in 2012. However, new guestroom furniture will be added, and there will be a few decor changes.The Fiksdal Hotel is slated to have its lobby updated, The Fiksdal's distinctive retro exterior also will receive a new look.

Schacht, who previously worked for Blue Stem, said there are no immediate plans for brand changes at either of the hotels. The new owners kept on Schacht and the 32 employees who staff both hotels.

While the sale value is significant, the Fiksdal Hotel's prominent location across Second Street from Saint Marys Hospital and its distinctive 1960s style makes the change even more noteworthy.

Brothers Mads and Edward Fiksdal, who also owned the nearby Fiksdal Flowers, built their namesake hotel for $1 million and opened it with 55 rooms in 1965. It now has 53 rooms.

It was designed by architect Frank Pattee, of Minneapolis, and built by Rochester contractor Alvin E. Benike. Pattee worked with Minneapolis artist William Saltzman, who specially created color woodcuts to decorate each room as well as the lobby. Saltzman was a former director of the Rochester Art Center.

"I think it (the Fiksdal Hotel) has been a great place for Rochester over the years," said Glen Fiksdal, the son of Edward Fiksdal. "I look forward to seeing what the new owners are going to do with it."

Glen Fiksdal was 20 years old when he became the hotel's first desk clerk. It was a role that allowed him a chance to serve many well-known celebrities and sports legends, such as New York Yankee Mickey Mantle and the Green Bay Packers' Bart Starr.

"I grew up in that business," he said. "I met a lot of interesting people. I saw a lot of medical success stories for people from all over world."

He watched as the hotel introduced innovative new amenities that have since become standard in today's hospitality industry.

"When the motel was built, there was no such thing as continental breakfast. We took two rooms on the second floor and turned them into a breakfast area," Fiksdal remembers.

It boasted of access unheard of in the 1960s, with wheelchair-bound guests able to go into every part of the hotel. It also offered shuttle service to Mayo Clinic's downtown operations.

The Aspen Suites, with its 83-rooms, has a shorter history in Rochester. It was built in 2000 and opened as a Staybridge Suites. Blue Stem dropped the Staybridge franchise in 2012 and opted to make the Rochester property an independent hotel under the name of Aspen Suites,

"It has worked out really well. Aspen Suites has been doing wonderfully under its own brand. Location, location, location," Schacht said.

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