|By Eric Anderson, Albany Times Union,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 19, 2009--TROY -- Troy as a tourist destination?
The new Hilton Garden Inn Troy on Hoosick Street, which opened at 3 p.m. Tuesday, is giving it a shot. The new hotel celebrates its location with large photos of scenes around the city, hanging on walls throughout the eight-story hotel.
Its meeting and conference rooms, meanwhile, are named for area notables from the city's past, many of them alumni of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Among them, the Roebling Room, for the builder of the Brooklyn Bridge; the Sage room, for the Troy industrialis; and the Ferris room, for the creator of the Ferris wheel.
It's the first chain hotel in the city since the Rensselaer Best Western Inn closed two years ago and was converted to a dormitory for RPI.
Two floors of the Hilton Garden Inn contain meeting rooms, banquet facilities and a 100-seat theater. The hotel's manager, BBL Hospitality, an affiliate of BBL Development Group in Albany, hopes to attract meeting and conference business.
But it also hopes its location on the busy Route 7 corridor to southern Vermont will result in a lot of "walk-in" traffic, said Carrie Hillenbrandt, corporate director of sales for the hotel's owner.
"The area is short on meeting and conference space," Hillenbrandt said as she gave a reporter a tour of the hotel Tuesday afternoon.
The $20 million project includes 127 rooms and suites, two restaurants, an indoor pool, an outdoor courtyard and patio, and all the amenities you'd expect from a new hotel, such as free wireless Internet and Herman Miller Aeron chairs throughout.
The standard corporate room rate is $159 a night, although the weekend rates can be as low as $109. An advance purchase rate is $129, and there are various discounts if you're a senior citizen or a member of AAA, for example.
The new hotel employs 30 people, while the restaurant and banquet and conference facilities will each employ another 30 to 40 people.
Photos and conference rooms with familiar names aren't the only local touches.
During hockey season, RPI away games will be carried on some of the dozens of video screens hanging from the ceiling at the Recovery Sports Grill, a tavern and restaurant on one of the lower levels.
The goal is to attract the locals, and with the RPI campus just a few blocks south, that shouldn't be too difficult.
The restaurant is expected to open early next week. A grand opening will be held at a later date.
Despite the slump in business travel during the recession, Hillenbrandt is confident the new hotel will thrive, given the volume of traffic that on Hoosick Street, the proximity of Troy's two hospitals, the closeness of RPI and the number of conferences it sponsors, and the access to Hilton's reservation system.
Russell Sage College is likely to provide some business, too.
Hillenbrandt said the hotel will host guests for the inaugural of the college's new president in October.
Eric Anderson can be reached at 454-5323 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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