|By Thomas Stauffer, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 7, 2005 - Welcome to The Hotel Arizona.
The former Radisson Hotel City Center at 181 W. Broadway has opted out of its affiliation with Radisson Hotels & Resorts, said Tom Tracy, president of The Lodging Co., a Tucson-based management company that has run the Downtown hotel since August.
Tracy, who also is involved with a group working to redevelop the hotel, said a 15-year renewal with Radisson was not in the best interests of the property, which is owned by Tucson-based HSL Properties.
Tentative plans for redevelopment of the hotel call for construction of a new tower south of the existing one, Tracy said.
"We're trying to redevelop the entire block, and Radisson was just not the right kind of franchise given our redevelopment plan," Tracy said. "We need to make a franchise change, and this is a clean slate that gives us the option to do almost anything." Other than the temporary signs covering up the old Radisson moniker, hotel guests shouldn't notice a change, he said.
"We really don't anticipate a whole lot of change, and any change probably would be good from a customer service standpoint," Tracy said. "Not being tied to the franchise regulations will allow us to enhance guest service and make the hotel a little edgier." Though a national brand name can have advantages for a hotel, there's nothing wrong with going it alone, said Downtown commercial real estate broker Buzz Isaacson.
"If there is an area where a national brand has less value, it would be Downtown," Isaacson said. "It's such a close-knit community and a lot of business is word-of-mouth or proximity to other activities, so if a place is run right, it'll make it Downtown and doesn't have to be affiliated with a national chain." The new signs on the hotel -- which originally opened in 1973 as the Braniff Place Hotel and later was the Holiday Inn Broadway -- read "The Hotel Arizona at the Tucson Convention Center." Though there is nothing official about the hotel's relationship with the Convention Center, the two do work together to bring business groups to town, said center director Rich Singer.
"This won't change that cooperation at all," Singer said. "We'll continue to work with what is now the Hotel Arizona." Singer agreed with Isaacson that the hotel can prosper without an affiliation.
"One of the things you get from brand names for hotels often times is an 800 number of a nationwide sales office," he said. "On the other hand, we know here in Tucson that we can have our own distinct brand -- and I'm thinking of the Arizona Inn -- and build an incredible value."
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