|By Daniel Gilbert, Bristol Herald
Courier, Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
January 9, 2008 - A major Bristol developer is selling his three area hotels, and will close one, Bristol Lodging, for renovations on Saturday, his wife said Tuesday.
The decision by Trammell Hotel Investments to sell Bristol Lodging off of U.S. Highway 11W, as well as the Exit 7 mainstays, the Holiday Inn and the Courtyard by Marriott, come in response to owner Mack Trammell's failing health.
Trammell, 81, suffers from dementia, according to his wife, Carol Trammell, who is taking over her husband's business.
"He's not able to run it, and I do not want to run hotels," she said Tuesday. "I don't need the headache, and I think someone else could give it more attention, and do better for the city of Bristol."
Bob Hunter, the Trammell's Atlanta-based broker, declined to say whether there are any interested parties.
Although the Marriott remains the company's "ace-in-the-hole," Carol Trammell noted that the demand for banquet facilities is down, and that business has been slow at Bristol Lodging since the adjacent restaurant closed.
Closing the Lodging accounts for more than half of the 21 layoffs the company announced on Sunday, said Neil Aycock, director of human resources for all three Trammell hotels.
Aycock said 13 employees at Bristol Lodging were given notice on Sunday, though a few will work for the rest of this week. The jobs eliminated included housekeepers, restaurant servers, and positions in the banquet department. Aycock called the layoffs "average" for the season.
A Bristol Lodging employee, whose employment ends Friday, disputed the management's numbers, saying that 31 people had been laid off between all three hotels. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity because she is waiting to collect her last paycheck.
The employee on Monday reported receiving 40 phone calls from prospective clients interested in using the banquet facilities.
"We could have kept this place going," she said.
Carol Trammell said Bristol Lodging will reopen in March, in time for the NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway, and that the hotel will honor reservations of clients already placed for those dates.
When the hotel reopens, employees who lost jobs will be extended an offer of returning to their former jobs, Aycock said.
Clients who rented rooms on a weekly basis at Bristol Lodging were given a week's notice, said James Sexton, general manger at the Holiday Inn. He said "only like 10" such clients were affected.
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