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Hammons $40 million Embassy Suites First New
 Full Service Hotel in Albuquerque in 16 Years
By Rosalie Rayburn, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Mar. 24, 2005 - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- An army of paintbrush wielding, wheelbarrow pushing, carpet laying contractors is putting the final touches on the first full-service hotel built in the city in 16 years.

Springfield, Mo.-based Killian Construction Co. has about 200 subcontractors working around the clock to finish the Embassy Suites hotel by its scheduled April 4 opening.

Rolls of carpeting and boxes of furniture still lined the halls earlier this month, but hotel general manager Mark Gundlach said he was confident Killian's army would pull it off.

"It'll all come together in the end," Gundlach said.

Killian has built at least 18 Embassy Suites for John Q. Hammons Hotels Inc., also of Springfield. The Albuquerque hotel at Interstate 25 and Lomas is one of four Embassy Suites that Hammons will open this year, said sales director Natalee Hoff. The $40 million Embassy is the first full-service hotel built in Albuquerque since the Hyatt Regency downtown in 1989.

A full-service hotel has everything: a restaurant, bar, meeting space, banquet facilities and room service, said Charlie Gray, president of the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association. Hammons held a job fair in February to hire about 185 employees for the new property.

City officials and the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau have said the hotel should boost business for Albuquerque's convention center.

Hoff said business is already brisk at the Embassy. She has bookings for 15 groups in April. The first group will arrive two days after the scheduled opening.

The hotel will have 261 suites, a treatment spa, 30,000 square feet of meeting space and a vivid reddish brown and yellow color scheme that recently provoked a flood of comment including numerous letters to the Journal. Some said the yellow was too bright. Others called it welcome variety in a sea of brown stucco.

Hotel management staff in Albuquerque dubbed it "sunset yellow" after an informal naming contest, Gundlach said.

Colors in the hotel rooms and public areas also reflect Southwestern themes. The 12,000-square-foot grand ballroom has carpeting in a geometric pattern of rust red, orange, turquoise and maroon.

Furniture in the 500-square-foot bedroom-living room suites is Southwest contemporary with handwoven-style upholstery on the sofas and wrought-iron lamps in some rooms.

Guests have a choice of two double beds or a king-size bed. Each suite has a queen-size foldout couch, a microwave oven, a refrigerator and a safe large enough to hold a laptop computer. Suites on the ninth floor have balconies that overlook the mountains or Downtown.

Guests will be able to check in at self-serve, computerized kiosks in the lobby. Hotel staff will be on hand to help them.

Room rates will range from $149 to $169 on weekdays. Weekend rates will be $99 to $119, Hoff said. Room rates include breakfast and beverages at a nightly "manager's reception."

High-speed wireless Internet connection and Starbucks coffee will be available in the Caffeina's Marketplace Cafe. Cooked-to-order breakfasts will be served in an atrium topped by three 17-foot-high pyramidal skylights.

The atrium, a signature in Hammons hotels, has a waterfall along one side and a circular pond with an island topped with potted plants.

All the hotel's public areas, including the bar and Cyprus Grille restaurant, will be smoke free, Gundlach said.

The hotel's Spa Botanica treatment center will open a week or two after the rest of the hotel, he said.

Last year, the Albuquerque City Council approved a seven-year property tax break for Hammons to build the hotel. Tourism officials say the city still needs more upscale hotel rooms near Downtown to attract more high-spending business visitors.


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Copyright (c) 2005, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

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