|By George Hohmann, Charleston Daily Mail,
W.Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 10, 2011--CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Ramada Plaza Hotel in South Charleston is becoming a Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites.
"We've been investing heavily since 2008, anticipating this," said Georgette George of Capital Hotel Group Limited Liability Co., the hotel's owner. "Our rooms are newly remodeled and all rooms include a refrigerator and microwave. We're now ready for a new exterior and new public space, including a brand-new pool, which we hope will be the leading indoor pool in the Kanawha Valley."
A black tower will be erected on the Second Avenue end of the building to give the structure a signature look. The main entrance, now on Second Avenue, will be moved to the west side of the building, facing the Wingate, which also is affiliated with the Capital Hotel Group.
The reconfigured layout will provide convenient access to the existing conference center for guests of either the 150-room Holiday Inn or the 94-room Wingate. "It gives us almost 250 rooms to market together," George said.
Plans call for eventually expanding the conference center in the space along Second Avenue occupied by the existing entrance.
Another reconfiguration benefit: Holiday Inn guests will be able to check in at a new registration desk and go straight to their rooms without mixing with conference attendees and conference attendees won't have to dodge vacationing families and other hotel guests.
"This is going to be a colorful, contemporary look," George said. Guests who enter the new main entrance will see the registration desk on the left. On the right they'll see the new pool and, beyond the pool, an outdoor fireplace built into a sleek wall. There will be an enormous skylight over the pool.
"This is not a surface remodel," George said. "Everything will be new." The hotel will feature the Holiday Inn brand's new "social hub" format.
The hotel will have about two-dozen suites.
"We will have an alternative for longer-term stays," George said. "Each suite will have a full kitchen. People want all of the amenities at a fair price.
"Holiday Inn is raising the bar on quality and expectations," she said. "They're making the tough decisions needed to be the best hotel company in the world. They're not just doing it in words, they're doing it in actions.
"We're extremely excited to become affiliated with the largest hotelier in the world," she said. The InterContinental Hotels Group owns Holiday Inn and six other brands. The company franchises, leases, manages or owns more than 4,400 hotels and more than 640,000 guest rooms in 100 countries around the world.
"Their strong reservation system is extraordinarily critical in our business because when you're out of town and coming in you need to know what to expect.
"Over the past several years we've been positioning ourselves to the upper mid-level hotel tier," George said. "We think the Holiday Inn brand will match our strengths, especially with this opportunity to remodel in addition to the investment we've already made. We've gone against the hotel industry trend over the last few years, when people have not reinvested during the downsizing of the economy. We've gone in the opposite direction. We've invested. We want to be in position when the national market rebounds."
In 2008, the owners of the Ramada Plaza and Wingate added 36 rooms to their Hampton Inn at Southridge Centre and remodeled all of that hotel's existing rooms. A new lobby and "the best exercise room in the valley" were added last year.
In 2009, all of the rooms at the Wingate were remodeled. The lobby and public spaces were renovated in 2010.
George said that when the transformation of the Ramada Plaza to a Holiday Inn is finished at the end of this year, "we will have invested about $10 million" and "all of our buildings will basically be brand new properties.
"Whatever the customer needs, we can hit that market with our family of hotels."
John Harris of Bastian & Harris, Charleston, is project architect. George said the construction contract is out for bids.
Contact writer George Hohmann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4836.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.
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