|By Karina Gonzalez, The Pantagraph,
Bloomington, Ill.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 16, 2011--NORMAL -- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites is about ready to debut its new look -- a $3 million renovation project aimed at drawing more young professionals.
Owners Anthony and Karen De Angelis said upgrading the hotel at 1715 Parkway Plaza Drive, Normal, has taken more than a year. Those who visit the hotel, either for business meetings or for an overnight stay, will find new furniture, wall decor and stair railings throughout the hotel, including rooms, the breakfast area, meeting rooms, the swimming pool and exercise room.
Final renovations to the exterior of the building, including installing a new outdoor sign, will be completed this week, said Anthony De Angelis, who has owned and operated the hotel with his wife for more than a decade.
The goal is "to keep ahead of the competition," he said. "We have a lot of young business travelers. (Young professionals) want new, fresh, clean and simple."
Karen De Angelis chose the restaurant's new furniture with that in mind. The new carpeting has tones of brown and green.
"It's grass-green," she said, pointing out the two-toned wall paint.
All of the new furniture was purchased from an Indiana manufacturer; the old furniture has been donated to Habitat for Humanity of McLean County in Bloomington.
The hotel's location near Interstate 55 and retail stores like Walmart already make it a perfect destination for people staying overnight, said the De Angelises, adding they expect the new amenities will keep customers coming back.
Each of the 85 rooms also has extra blankets and pillows, a 42-inch television and cushioned headboards. The swimming pool has more lounge chairs and an attached outdoor patio. There is more equipment in the exercise room.
Karen De Angelis said the couple had been saving for years so they could invest in the renovations.
"This is our livelihood and this is our future," said Anthony De Angelis.
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