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Argonaut Private Equity Rebranding Tulsa's Downtown 455-room Crowne Plaza
into Hyatt Regency; Aimbridge Hospitality Chosen as Operators

By Robert Evatt, Tulsa World, Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 23, 2010--Not only is Tulsa's downtown Crowne Plaza hotel getting a new name, but it's also getting significant upgrades.

Argonaut Private Equity, an investment arm of the George Kaiser Foundation, will continue to actively support the 455-room hotel once it changes into a Hyatt Regency on Jan. 1, Dallas-based Aimbridge Hospitality, the operators of the hotel, announced in a press release.

Jeff Keeley, general manager of the hotel, said each room in the Hyatt Regency will soon get flat-scren HDTVs, updated bedding, iPod docking stations and in-room safes large enough to house a laptop. The fitness center will also get an overhaul.

Keeley said the new branding ensures the hotel will remain a crucial component of downtown Tulsa.

"This is great for the future of the hotel," he said. "It'll help bring national recognition and put us on the map for conventions going forward."

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said in the release that the change is good news for the area.

"This hotel is a critical part of our downtown, serving both business travelers and tourists throughout the year, and I am thrilled that it will now carry the Hyatt brand and continue to be managed by one of the nation's leaders in the hospitality industry," he said. "Their 5-star quality and emphasis upon customer service will be an example for all of us."

Ken Levit, executive director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, said in the release that the organization was glad to make the investment in the facility.

"We believe the hotel, under the Hyatt brand and Aimbridge management,

will help further the growth and progress of our entire community."

The name change also marks a symbolic end to the Crowne Plaza's financial woes and uncertainty. After Ascension Hotels of Donaldson, La., purchased the hotel in 2006, Sorin Real Estate, holders of Ascension's $20.3 million loan, filed for foreclosure earlier this year.

In the process of the legal filing, Aimbridge Hospitality was named receiver of the hotel.

Argonaut Private Equity, bought the hotel for $11 million in August through a Tulsa County Sheriff's auction. The Crowne Plaza remained open throughout the process. Dave Johnson, CEO and president of Aimbridge Hospitality, said in the release that the change will help them better serve Tulsa.

"We are excited about this opportunity to continue managing this iconic property in downtown Tulsa, which will now be backed by Hyatt's strong reputation for delivering authentic hospitality to its guests," he said.


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Copyright (c) 2010, Tulsa World, Okla.

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