|By Wayne Heilman, The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
June 22, 2004 - The 121-year-old Antlers Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs will become a Hilton Hotel next month as it readies for a $7.5 million remodeling that will begin in November.
With 292 rooms, the downtown landmark will become The Antlers Hilton Colorado Springs on July 30 after a reservations system is installed and the hotel's 194 workers get uniforms, said Larry Vitagliano, the hotel's managing director and a partner in the property.
"We are proud to be associated with the Hilton family," Vitagliano said. "Hilton will bring a lot of benefits for both our employees and guests. Hilton personifies quality service and accommodations, which we are striving to bring back to this hotel."
Vitagliano cited benefits Hilton will bring including its national reservation system, a national sales office for convention and meeting business and the Hilton Honors frequent traveler rewards program, which includes the eight Hilton Hotels brands.
"The Antlers hotel, with its comprehensive facilities for both leisure and business travelers, will reinforce and complement our existing Hilton Family of Hotels presence in the area," said Jeff Diskin, senior vice president-brand management for Hilton Hotels.
The remodeling project will begin in early November with the hotel's smaller meeting rooms and spread to the guest rooms by mid-December, Vitagliano said. The hotel will remain open throughout the project, which should be completed by March.
Remodeling changes will include a stone fireplace in the lobby lounge as well as lighting and more casual seating areas throughout the lobby and lounge, said Tim Taylor, vice president of Pyramid Project Management, an affiliate of Pyramid Hotel Group, which owns the Antlers.
The hotel was rewired this year for free wireless high-speed Internet access, which has been available to guests since May.
Pyramid Project Management will oversee and act as general contractor for the remodeling, while Dallas-based Portfolio Associates will design the lobby and meeting room remodeling and California-based SFA Design will design the guest room remodeling.
The Antlers will become the first Colorado Springs hotel to bear the Hilton Hotel flagship brand. The Park Plaza Hotel, most recently the Holiday Inn near Garden of the Gods Road, ran from 1974-94 under the Hilton Inn name. The Hilton Inn brand was a notch below the Hilton Hotel brand. Hilton Inns no longer operate.
Eight other Hilton franchises operate in the Springs under the Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn and Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton names. Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Hilton franchises more than 2,100 hotels worldwide under its brands.
Bob Benton, a Parker-based hotel industry consultant, said the Hilton name will help attract more guests to the Antlers and said that the affiliation will help the hotel upgrade its image because "Hilton has high standards for the Hilton brand."
Beth Kosley, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, said the group has "looked forward for some time to the new affiliation and renovation of this hotel because it is important to have a good (meeting) facility in downtown."
The Antlers has operated under the Adam's Mark brand since the St. Louis-based chain bought the hotel in 1998. A joint venture of Pyramid Hotel Group and Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund bought the hotel Dec. 30 but continued to operate it as an Adam's Mark hotel.
Pyramid will convert another Adam's Mark hotel in Indianapolis to a Hilton on Aug. 4 and is converting Adam's Marks in Houston to a Marriott hotel and in San Antonio to a Crowne Plaza hotel. Pyramid still operates four other hotels under the Adam's Mark brand. The shift to Hilton is a homecoming of sorts for Vitagliano, who returned to the Antlers in March after spending 20 years managing Doubletree and Hilton hotels, including six years as general manager of the Antlers when it operated under the Doubletree brand.
Convention, meeting and leisure bookings at the Antlers have improved in recent months as the national and local economies recover, Vitagliano said. The hotel would benefit from construction of a proposed convention center but would be hurt if another downtown hotel were built along with the center, he said.
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