|By Fran Daniel, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 8, 2004 - The Ramada Plaza Hotel on University Parkway has a new owner who plans to give it a facelift.
WinSal Hotel LLC, which is owned by six North Carolina businessmen, bought the hotel Oct. 1 from Plaza Coliseum LLC, of which local businessman and hotel owner, Don Angell, is a managing member.
Angell did not return calls asking for comment on the sale, but M. Michael Geissler, the managing member of WinSal Hotel, said yesterday that the Ramada Plaza has been renamed Sundance Plaza Hotel & Suites.
"What we want to do with this property, which is different than any other hotel in town, is we want to go away from being a commodity," said Geissler who lives in Durham.
He said he wants to offer consumers more than just a bed and shower. The price of rooms will range from $95 to $125 a night, he said.
He declined to say how much the hotel cost to buy but according to Forsyth County tax records, the hotel has a tax value of $3.9 million.
Geissler, who has 27 years of experience in the hospitality industry, is also the president and chief executive of Promise Management Inc., a hospitality-management company in Raleigh that owns hotels and restaurants throughout North Carolina and South Carolina. A native of Germany, he has lived in North Carolina for 18 years.
"I think in the last 10 or 15 years we have made a mistake in the hospitality industry," he said. "We are fighting hard without giving the guests more to be excited about."
He said that the industry hasn't gone beyond what guests expect of them, except for a nice, clean, decorated room and keeping up with industry standards. He also said that the industry doesn't do much to attract local people, except for getting them to such activities as banquets and weddings.
At the Sundance Plaza, he plans to focus on a new concept that he calls a "boutique property." The hotel will provide accommodations with the same standards as nice hotels but also an atmosphere of well-being and services not usually found, he said.
"I want to have each guest leave this property with an experience," he said.
WinSal Hotel expects to begin a major upgrade of the hotel in the next four weeks. The renovations, expected to be complete within 18 months, will include an open-area café to replace a lounge, public areas for entertainment, a redesigned fitness area and a spa.
Describing parts of the lobby area, Geissler said: "When you walk by you're going to hear water coming down from the walls or from the treatment and surface. You're going to hear very nice music, which is refreshing."
Twenty-five percent of the hotel's rooms will feature local art and culture.
"We're inviting local groups to come to us and participate," Geissler said.
He said that the hotel will also focus on individual guest profiles.
"When you come to us, we will make a big effort to get to know what we can do to make it an experience," he said.
Sundance Hotel, which has 200 rooms and 50 suites, will have an affiliation with Choice Hotels International in which it will use the hotel chain's international reservation system.
Geissler declined to give an exact cost of the project but said that it will be a significant amount.
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