Marriott’s $4M in Upgrades Underway

December 16, 2011

Work has begun on refurbishing parts of the midtown Fort Collins Marriott.

While cosmetics get some much-­‐deserved attention, operations also are getting an overhaul. A new general manager and sales director are now on duty, hoping to boost business at a property that got its newest owner in early September in a $23 million deal. Along with the Fort Collins Marriott, San Diego-­‐based Southwest Value Partners also purchased the Courtyard by Marriott and the Residence Inn, both on Oakridge Drive off Harmony Road. All three properties were formerly owned by Integrated Capital of Los Angeles, but the Fort Collins Marriott went in to foreclosure in 2009. Ownership was transferred into a bundled fund in September 2010, after the company lost the Oakridge Drive properties.

Integrated Capital bought the Fort Collins Marriott properties for $41.68 million in 2006, then failed to pay on its $32.5 million note for months prior to an August 2009 foreclosure filing.

The properties are now being managed by Dimension Development of Natchitoches, La. Reggie took over for former general manager, Richard Romane, when the sale was completed in September. Also with the sale, Donna Clark took over as director of sales for the three hotels. The 164,045-­‐square-­‐foot Fort Collins Marriott is poised to take full advantage of its new ownership and the turning tides of the hospitality industry in Colorado, Casselberry said, with $4 million in renovations planned. A total of $12 million in renovations is planned for the three properties combined.

The biggest improvements that will come as part of the new ownership and management will take place in the public areas of the hotel, such as the lobby, restaurant and bar. The Marriott next year will be fully implementing what it calls the “Marriott Great Room,” which merges the lobby with the restaurant and bar to create one large space that provides a multi-­‐purpose area for guests. Visitors to the hotel will be able to work, enjoy a meal, have a drink or simply relax in the merged space, Casselberry said. In addition, meeting rooms will be completely renovated.

The guest rooms are in excellent shape, according the Casselberry, so they will not be undergoing any improvements but will be getting upgraded thermostats in the coming months. Exterior painting of the building is also currently under way, Casselberry said. Outside of improvements to the building, Casselberry expects the addition of an on-­‐property sales team, led by Clark, to help the Marriott grab onto some of the success experienced by hotels in the region in recent months.

“Having an on-­‐property sales team will send individuals into the community to focus on the personal touch necessary,” Casselberry said. “We plan on becoming much more involved with the community in 2012.” The November Rocky Mountain Lodging Report showed that occupancy rates in Fort Collins increased in October from 58.2 percent in 2010 to 63.4 percent in 2011, continuing a positive trend noted for several months. Business has already been improving at the Fort Collins Marriott year-­‐over-­‐year, according to Casselberry, with occupancy rates increasing by 11 percent from fourth-­‐quarter 2010 to 2011. Room rates have increased only nominally, by $2 year-­‐over-­‐year, which is obviously positive when coupled with vacancy rates, but is not a substantial increase, Casselberry said. Rooms at the Fort Collins Marriott are currently going for $89 per night.

At the moment, the Marriott is one of only two full-­‐service hotels in Fort Collins. The Hilton, located at 425 W. Prospect Road, is the other, but a push for a downtown hotel by the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority could create more competition for the Marriott. The project has been slow to get off the ground, with the city council voting in August not to provide financial assistance in the near future. Still, Josh Birks, the city’s economic development adviser, told the Business Report in August that he’s optimistic a city-­‐assisted project is still a possibility down the road. “I stand by the consultant’s conclusion that a downtown hotel would be an asset for the downtown as well as the community,” he said. “The general feeling (is) now is not the right time, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be sometime in the future to ask that question again.” By then, the Marriott will have completed its refurbishing and, it hopes, doing plenty of business.