News for the Hospitality Executive
|By John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 4, 2004 - Downtown Detroit's newest hotel, the 198-room Hilton Garden Inn, is set to open this weekend.
Located at 351 Gratiot Ave. in the Harmonie Park district, the hotel will cater to business travelers during the week and leisure travelers on weekends. Among other things, the inn notches another win in the city's effort to reinvent downtown as a lively 24-hour place to live, work and party.
"I think it's a great addition to the city," Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said Wednesday. "It's the best product that Hilton Garden has ever done."
Wednesday, construction crews were finishing last-minute touches. Michael Molnar, the assistant general manager, said the hotel staff hope to open for business by Friday afternoon, with the first guests booked for Saturday night.
Opening this weekend means the Hilton Garden can enjoy a share of the lucrative Society of Automotive Engineers convention coming to Detroit next week.
The hotel employs 70, and it plans to add employees in coming weeks as demand for rooms picks up.
The introductory rates are $109 a night Sunday through Thursday and $99 a night Friday and Saturday.
The hotel offers 27 suites, a swimming pool and fitness center, valet parking and two restaurants.
Designed by Kraemer Design Group of Detroit, the hotel's brick exterior and traditional look were meant to blend in with the historic architecture of Harmonie Park, which dates to the 1920s and earlier.
The new hotel's location places it squarely in the middle of the city's emerging entertainment district. To the south across Gratiot lies Greektown, while a couple of blocks to the north lies Comerica Park and Ford Field, the Detroit Opera House and other attractions.
The hotel was developed by the Ferchill Group, a Cleveland-based real estate firm. And it doesn't look like the Hilton Garden will be Ferchill's only effort here. The city has already reached a tentative understanding that the group will undertake a renovation of the historic Book-Cadillac Hotel.
Last year, Kilpatrick announced a deal with Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark Corp. to renovate the Book-Cadillac in a $150-million deal. That deal fell apart last fall, but the mayor and his aides have been working with Ferchill to step in and resume the project.
That deal is pending the selection of an operating company such as Hilton or Marriott, plus some other technical details, the mayor's aides said this week.
New hotel rooms have been sorely needed downtown for many years, city backers say. Although the downtown hotel market remains thin -- overbooked during events like the annual North American International Auto Show but often underused at other times -- city leaders have for years say more rooms are needed to boost the city's convention business.
With Kilpatrick leading efforts to fund a new 1-million-square-foot convention center to replace the aging Cobo Center, more hotel rooms could become even more of a priority.
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