News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 18, 2004 - The proposed Marriott Hotel in downtown Winston-Salem could reinvigorate efforts to attract larger and more upscale conventions to the community, local tourism and business leaders said yesterday.
Noble Investment Group LLC plans to spend $28 million to buy and renovate the Adam's Mark hotel, turning it into a 316-room Marriott Hotel and a 150-suite Embassy Suites by June 2005. The Winston-Salem City Council voted 6-1 on Monday to enter into an agreement with the Atlanta company.
As part of the agreement, Noble would manage the Benton Convention Center for 15 years, beginning in July.
Having an upscale Marriott Hotel would add a new look and excitement to downtown, said Gayle Anderson, the president of the Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. "Marriott is the crème de la crème of full-service hotels," she said.
"This renovation project would make a marvelous addition to our hospitality lineup and help alleviate fears that the city was losing some of its competitive edge from a facility standpoint," said Bob McCoy, the president of the Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau.
McCoy said that the bureau has limited its pursuit of some larger conventions in recent years because the city didn't offer the hotel amenities those groups expect.
"Once council approves the final deal on the hotel property, we can resume recruiting bigger groups and bigger spenders such as high-level professional associations," McCoy said.
Hobie Cawood, the chairman of the authority, said that having a Marriott downtown would be a key piece of the tourism puzzle for the community.
Authority officials said that the community must continue to bolster tourism efforts, particularly in the arts and sports, so that the Marriott and Embassy Suites can serve as a dealmaker for those groups.
The chamber's Anderson said that having a Marriott downtown would encourage local corporations to hold large meetings here instead of elsewhere in the Triad.
"Some of these corporations prefer a higher-quality hotel product, offering the latest video-conferencing equipment and communication networks and 24-hour food service," Anderson said. "Some executives also prefer staying at a Marriott to build up their Marriott points, and you can't discount those perks as an hotel-arrangement incentive."
McCoy said he plans to meet today with Noble officials to address the issue of existing contracts with the Adam's Mark, how they plan to handle events during the renovation and if the convention center will continue to provide accommodations for civic groups.
"We're hopeful that having new management over the hotels and the convention center will lend itself to one set of rules that we can market to travel planners," McCoy said.
Larry Leon Hamlin, the founder and artistic director of the National Black Theatre Festival, said he is a little concerned the hotel renovations may not be completed in time for the next festival in August 2005.
But he added having a Marriott could help increase festival attendance over time. He said that there are some people who are reluctant to stay at an Adam's Mark property because of lingering effects of a race-discrimination suit filed against the hotel chain and settled in 2000.
"With other hotel chains handling the festival accommodations beginning in 2005, it might be enough to persuade some people to return or to attend for the first time," Hamlin said.
-----To see more of the Winston-Salem Journal, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.journalnow.com
(c) 2004, Winston-Salem Journal. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. MAR, HLT,