|By Brian Lazenby, Chattanooga Times/Free
Press, Tenn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 24, 2008 - Vision Hospitality is using fire, water and attention to detail to create a "wow factor" at a new Doubletree hotel coming to Chattanooga, officials say.
General Manager Bill Mish said the hotel, which is under construction yet still open under the Clarion name, will become Doubletree on Sept. 25 at 407 Chestnut St.
"On Sept. 25 we'll raise the flag of the Doubletree by Hilton," Mr. Mish said. "We felt the Chattanooga market could certainly use a full-service Hilton product."
Mr. Mish said Vision Hospitality, a hotel management and development company, invested about $24 million into the Doubletree, which he said includes the purchase price and renovation costs.
Mitch Patel, president and chief executive of Vision Hospitality, said the new Doubletree should be a springboard for growth and development downtown.
"We are excited about the transformation of that 35-year-old hotel," he said. "It had become an eye-sore in that area. It will be a good catalyst for future development in that area."
In addition to the Doubletree, Vision Hospitality officials will open a 92-room Holiday Inn Express on M.L King Boulevard near Riverfront Parkway in October. Vision Hospitality also will begin construction on the former Towing and Recovery Museum building at Fourth and Broad streets this fall which will become a 134-room Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton. The Hampton Inn is expected to open in the fall 2009.
Vision Hospitality has plans for a "boutique hotel," on the North Shore at Cherokee Boulevard and Manufacturers Road, which Mr. Mish defined as "something between a bed and breakfast and a high-quality, limited-service hotel."
Mr. Patel said the boutique hotel is just in the planning stages but is expected to have between 70 and 80 rooms.
Vision Hospitality also operates the downtown Hilton Garden Inn as well as the Hilton Garden Inn at Hamilton Place. In addition, it operates hotels in Cool Springs, Tenn., and Kennesaw, Ga.
Bob Doak, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he welcomes the new hotels.
"We continually see the supply of people coming to the city," he said. "I think there will be plenty of demand."
The Doubletree also could bring people to Chattanooga who might typically travel elsewhere, Mr. Doak said.
"We've never had a Doubletree in this town, and they certainly have a faithful following that will attract a new clientele," he said.
Workers gutted much of the 1972-era Clarion on their way to reducing 201 Clarion rooms to the 186-room Doubletree.
The new Doubletree's restaurant, Eleven, will seat about 100 and will serve both hotel guests as well as the public.
The focal point inside the full service bar, called H2O, will be a large, indoor fire pit. The hotel also will include a fitness center, a virtual lounge with Wi-Fi internet and large, high-definition, flat-screen televisions in each of the meeting rooms.
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