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Sheraton Suites Fairplex in Pomona, California
 Undergoing $9.5 million Facelift
By Rodney Tanaka, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Calif.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Sep. 2, 2005 - POMONA -- The Sheraton Suites Fairplex is in the middle of a $9.5-million renovation project, and a major convention center construction project also looms.

Work on the main floor and common areas, costing $3.5 million, is expected to be completed next week, said Dwight Richards, vice president of operations for Fairplex.

The restaurant has changed names from the Brass Ring to McKinley's Bar and Grill, which opens today.

This is the first major renovation of the hotel, at 601 W. McKinley Ave., which was built in 1992.

The first phase of reconstruction, completed in 2004, cost $5.6 million to renovate all 247 suites. That upgrade revamped everything from furnishings to beds to shower heads, Richards said.

"To maintain the Starwood property flagship, we had to elevate the quality of the furnishings in the hotel to what Starwood deems their standard," he said.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. is one of the world's largest hotel and leisure companies, with brand names such as Westin, Sheraton and St. Regis.

Fairplex owns the property and contracts with Starwood to operate the hotel.

Phase III will upgrade facilities such as the pool, recreation room and kitchen and is expected to be completed in June 2006. The three phases are expected to cost about $9.5 million, Richards said.

The renovations have already brought in an additional $1 million, Richards said, and guest ratings have soared.

The hotel had scored in the low 60s and 70s, but now they're seeing guest-satisfaction levels reaching the 90s in surveys, he said.

A good chunk of business comes to the hotel as a result of business conducted at Fairplex, such as consumer shows or Los Angeles County Fair-related clients, Richards said.

The hotel typically filled on weekends because of these shows, he said.

A 49,000-square-foot conference center is in the works, which would help fill hotel rooms during the week, Richards said.

The $20 million project is expected to break ground in October 2006.

Pamela Morgan, executive director and chief executive officer of the Pomona Chamber of Commerce, said the renovations will bring in more people and generate more community and economic development.

"They're going to see that and say Pomona's doing the right thing," Morgan said.


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Copyright (c) 2005, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Calif.

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