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John Q. Hammons Appoints Executive Team for the 230-room
Marriott Bloomington – Normal Hotel & Conference Center

Jeff Pritts Named General Manager

NORMAL, Ill. & SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- August 4, 2009 - The Town of Normal, Ill., is counting down to the much-anticipated debut of John Q. Hammons’ nine-story, 230-room/suite Marriott Bloomington – Normal Hotel & Conference Center ( scheduled to open in early fall 2009 as a part of Normal’s Uptown Renewal Plan. John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts today announced the executive management team overseeing the opening of the luxury facilities and named General Manager Jeff Pritts, a long-time veteran with the company, as team leader. Located at 201 Broadway Avenue, the contemporary-designed hotel and adjoining 23,000 net square feet of meeting space are anticipated to create nearly 150 jobs. The facilities will be managed by Springfield, Mo.-based John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts, the nation’s leading independent builder, developer, owner and manager of upscale, full-service hotels, resorts and suites ( Sporting a whimsical, jewel-toned décor, the full-service hotel will be owned by Mr. Hammons, considered a living hotel legend.

The new Marriott Hotel and adjoining conference center represent one of the first major capital improvement plans the Town of Normal has taken in nearly 20 years. The facilities will connect to a 500-space parking deck via a climate-controlled skywalk across Beaufort Street. The high quality facilities complement John Q. Hammons’ other luxury property in Illinois, the Embassy Suites East Peoria Hotel & Conference Center, recently recognized as the number one Embassy Suites in the world.

Expected to drive pre-opening sales from among associations, corporations, universities and community influencers, the Marriott Bloomington – Normal Hotel & Conference Center executive team members include:

Jeff Pritts, general manager: Pritts is a 19-year hospitality industry veteran, most recently serving in management at John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts’ AAA Four Diamond Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa in Arizona. His experience also spans Corporate Marriott and Davidson Hotel Company. With a degree in hotel administration from Missouri State University, Pritts actively contributes to community and industry leadership, including past positions as vice president of the Connecticut chapter of the National Beverage Association; prior board of directors with Angels’ Arms Foster Care ( in St. Louis; as a past board member and treasurer of the Health and Environment Board for the city of Webster Groves, Mo.; and as a prior member of the Food Bank of San Antonio, Texas.

Heather VanVoorhis, director of sales & marketing: VanVoorhis has 16 years of hotel and conference center sales experience and vast knowledge of Bloomington – Normal and the surrounding area, backed by a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hotel management from Purdue University. Her career spans significant brand leaders, such as Hilton and Holiday Inn with Lodgian in the Midwest. Most recently, VanVoorhis served as opening director of sales for the Stoney Creek Inn in Quad Cities, Ill.

Dave Haning, assistant general manager of food and beverage: Haning has over 34 years of experience in the hospitality business with 11 of those with John Q Hammons Hotels & Resorts. He has worked with multiple well-known brands, including Marriott and Hilton. Most recently Haning was assistant general manager of John Q. Hammons’ award-winning Embassy Suites East Peoria Hotel & Conference Center.

Ryan Evans, assistant general manager of rooms: Evans has more than six years of hospitality experience with multiple brands, including Marriott and the award-winning Candlewood Suites. Evans began his career with John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts while completing a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and restaurant administration and recently rejoined the company.

Brian Thrailkill, director of accounting services: Thrailkill brings more than 13 years of hotel front office and accounting experience in the Chicago Market to John Q. Hammons’ new hotel and conference center. His career spans work with Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Omni, and Westin branded hotels. He has a liberal arts degree from Prairie State College and is currently pursuing an additional degree in managerial accounting from Ellis University in Chicago.

Sarah Zirwes, director of human resources: Zirwes has more than five years of hotel human resources experience with the Marriott, Hilton, and Starwood brands. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Alma College and a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in human resources from Central Michigan University.

“Our conference center facilities will feature flexible meeting space, the latest audio visual services, and professional catering perfect for a wide range of events for up to 2,000 attendees,” said Heather VanVoorhis, director of sales & marketing, Marriott Bloomington – Normal Hotel & Conference Center. “We’re already experiencing a tremendous response from organizations looking to book events over the next year, and we’re guiding numerous hard hat tours of the impressive facilities.”

A sampling of pre-opening booking activity from groups includes: American Institute of Architects – Illinois Council; Bloomington – Normal Economic Development Council; Girl Scouts of Central Illinois; Illinois Chapter of NECA; Illinois State University; and Illinois Wesleyan University.

Area Information
Strategically located at the intersection of Fell Avenue and Beaufort Street, the Marriott Bloomington – Normal Hotel & Conference Center will be easily accessible from Illinois State University, home to more than 20,000 students and 3,000 faculty. An eclectic selection of dining, entertainment and shopping destinations are also located in Uptown Normal. Guests will also be able to conveniently experience the nearby Children’s Discovery Museum and historic Normal Theater.

Making a Reservation
For more information or to book a group function at the Marriott Bloomington – Normal Hotel & Conference Center, contact (309) 862-9000, fax (309) 862-9001, email: or go to

Hotel Information
John Q. Hammons’ Marriott Bloomington – Normal Hotel & Conference Center will boast spacious rooms and suites featuring the signature Revive®Bedding Package. Guests will able to start their day off right with their favorite coffees and pastries from Caffeina’s Marketplace, work up a sweat in the complete fitness center with indoor pool, or stay productive with high-speed wireless Internet access. Guests also will have the option to dine in style in the casual but elegant on-site Jesse’s Grille, featuring unique American cuisine prepared by John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts’ award-winning chef – Nicholas Wichtner.

About John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts
Springfield, Mo.-based John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts is the nation’s leading independent builder, developer, owner and manager of upscale, full-service hotels, resorts and suites, including: Embassy Suites Hotels, Renaissance, Marriott, Radisson, Residence Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Holiday Inn and Courtyard by Marriott brands. With 82 hotels strategically located near demand generators, such as state capitals, universities, airports, corporate headquarters or office parks in secondary and tertiary markets, John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts’ properties are dominant in their markets. Over the course of his impressive 51-year career in the hotel business, Mr. John Q. Hammons has developed 208 hotels. For more information about John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts, please visit the company’s Web site at


John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts
Scott Tarwater, 417-873-3591


Also See: New $56 million Marriott Hotel and Conference Center Previewed by Normal City, Illinois Council Members / July 2009
Normal, Illinois a Perfect Fit for a John Q Hammons $50 million Hotel / February 2007



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