|By David Wethe, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 2, 2005 - D/FW AIRPORT -- Four months after opening the $60 million Grand Hyatt DFW, officials at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport want to make some changes.
But the suggestion for changing such things as the hotel's front doors, outside signs and fire system ran into stiff opposition from one of the airport's 11 directors.
"This really irritates me, what I'm hearing from you guys," said Santiago Salinas, the secretary of the airport board who has expressed past concern with D/FW's $3.7 billion debt.
Ken Buchanan, executive vice president of revenue management for D/FW, told the board's finance and audit committee Tuesday that the 12-story, 298-room hotel was doing better than expected.
It has brought in $3.7 million in revenue, ahead of the $3.4 million budgeted. Occupancy is at 46.7 percent, below the expected 50.3 percent, but the $161.99 daily room rate has exceeded the expected $157.10.
But Buchanan said the hotel needs better signage on its west side, which is seen by airplanes pulling up to the gate. It also needs better signage at the curb of Terminal D, effectively the front door to the hotel, he said.
The hotel shares a fire-detection system with the terminal. Buchanan suggested separating the two so that the hotel doesn't have to be evacuated if there's a small grease fire in the terminal's concessionaire area.
Buchanan also suggested changing the front doors of the terminal closest to the hotel from manual to automatic. Or the airport could put in a revolving door. It's all to create a "sense of arrival," Buchanan told the committee.
Salinas was not pleased.
"We just opened a building, and you're coming in here telling us we need all these changes," Salinas said.
"I'm in no mood to spend any more money until maybe a year from now to see how we do."
George Vizer, general manager of the hotel, said in a telephone interview that some of the changes are in response to customer feedback.
"This is not a wish list," he said. "These are very real items that will make a very quantifiable difference. They're not a matter of life and death, [but] they are items that continue to fortify the brand."
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