|By Lynne P. Shackleford, Herald-Journal,
Spartanburg, S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 24, 2011--About $3 million in upgrades are under way to enhance the Marriott at Renaissance Park in Spartanburg.
The upgrades are part of the hotel ground lease modifications City Council agreed to when Southern Management Group purchased the facility in January. The group plans to complete the hotel renovations over the next three years.
The renovations and upgrades are the first since the hotel opened in 2003.
Mayor Junie White said the hotel is the focal point of the downtown area.
"It's a huge draw for people outside of Spartanburg to meet and gather," White said. "It's convenient, it's attractive and for council as a body, it's important to support what's going on there now. (The upgrades are) nothing but positive for the Marriott and for the community."
Akshay Bahl, the hotel's general manager, said the improvements began about a month ago to the exterior portion of the building. The entire structure was pressure washed last week.
Landscaping and exterior improvements will continue through the summer and then upgrades to the mechanical and electrical systems and climate control will begin.
A concierge lounge is being added to the eighth floor for Marriott frequent travelers, Bahl said.
A laundry facility will be completed by September so all linens will be cleaned on-site rather than using an outdoor cleaning company, he said.
Renovations to the Dupre Restaurant, 299 Bar and patio will begin by the end of the year to make it more attractive to local customers.
Currently, the restaurant and bar are mainly used by hotel guests, but Bahl said his goal is for the community to also use the facilities.
"We'll have a new chef and new cuisine, and our focus will be to market the restaurant to the local residents," he said.
No improvements are planned for guest rooms, but wireless Internet will be added to accommodate guests and business travelers.
"This hotel is a landmark and a great tool for the city to sell itself," Bahl said of the 247-room hotel. "We have the Milliken Corporation, BMW and other major companies that need a place to meet and the premium location for that and for families to stay."
Bahl is employed with Winegardner and Hammons, which manages 28 hotels nationwide. The Southern Hospitality Group, headed by Andrew Cajka and Spartanburg businessman and philanthropist Jimmy Gibbs, contracted with the company after purchasing the hotel in January, ending the years-long struggle to bring the facility back to financial solvency.
As part of the agreement, the city owns the grounds and the hotel's first floor conference center and leases them to the hotel.
"Our goal is to add new services and offer a premium quality experience that adds value to the price our guests are paying," Bahl said.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.
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