News for the Hospitality Executive
|By David Williams, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 3, 2003 - For that landmark circular hotel in East Memphis, what goes around comes around.
Yes, it's time for another name change.
The distinctive reflective-glass tower hotel originally known as the Hyatt Regency, later as the Omni Memphis, more recently as the Adam's Mark and currently the Park Vista, is scheduled to become the Hilton Memphis by April 1.
But a $12 million renovation project buys much more than a new sign, and so the new owners -- Memphis-based Davidson Hotel Co. -- want you to know the 28-year-old property is getting a personality change, too.
"There's been no real change or renovation of this hotel in a long time," said Robert H. Mercer, general manager and regional vice president.
"Everything gets upgraded, really. All the guest rooms, all the meeting space, all the public areas.
"This is going to be an exciting hotel."
The 400-plus rooms are being given what Mercer calls "somewhat of a residential retro" look.
Funky comes to mind, as well, with bright green furniture here, an orange pillow there, eclectic art all about.
The room renovation has begun. Renovation of public spaces will start after the first of the year.
Currently, it's a bit of a hunt -- and a hike -- to find the check-in counter.
By next spring, check-in will take place closer to the entrance -- and in a nontraditional way. Check-in pods will replace the traditional long counter.
"Which are a much more personal touch," Mercer said. "It breaks the barrier of the old-style looking front desk where everybody hides behind.
"You can actually walk around and shake the hand of the customers (and) handle the guests more personally."
Davidson, which bought the property April 1 from St. Louis-based Adam's Mark Hotels and Resorts, expects the hotel to return to prominence.
"The location couldn't be better, right in the middle of a thriving business district, and located right off Poplar," said Tom Goodwin, director of sales and marketing.
Despite that location, Mercer said Davidson bought a hotel with "poor" occupancy rates, adding, "We weren't left with a lot of base business because of the condition the hotel had gotten in."
Mercer forecasts 2004 occupancy rates of better than 60 percent, "and it includes the first three months when we'll still be under renovation."
He predicts revenues of $14 million in the first year as the Hilton Memphis.
John Oros, executive vice president of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the hotel "had slipped a little bit," in an area of Memphis with 8,600 hotel rooms, the highest concentration in the city.
"The improvements they're doing are going to make that again one of the premier hotels in the city," said Oros, adding that the hotel's amount of meeting space is second in the city to The Peabody.
"It's important that owners reinvest and put dollars back into their hotels, because we know wear and tear on hotels, especially busy ones, can date and age a property quickly."
Park Vista is Davidson's transitional name until the change to Hilton, borrowing a name used by a company property -- the Park Vista Hotel Resort -- in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Mercer said Hilton is "a big name in our industry," and gives name recognition to a hotel that's never lacked for visual recognition in the market.
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(c) 2003, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. HLT,