Crowne Plaza in downtown Albany changing flag to Hilton Hotels & Resorts
The Business Review by Michael DeMasi, Reporter
Date: Thursday, December 8, 2011, 6:53amEST
Reporter- The Business Review
The Crowne Plaza in downtown Albany, New York—at 368 rooms, the biggest hotel in the region—will be re-branded a Hilton as part of a multi-million dollar renovation project starting early next year.
A Hilton spokesman, John Forrest Ales, confirmed the plans in an email to The Business Review.
The hotel “will undergo a major renovation before fully becoming a Hilton Hotels & Resorts property in 2012,” said Ales, director of global brand relations at Hilton’s corporate headquarters inMcLean, Virginia.
The hotel will become formally affiliated with Hilton this month, giving it access to the brand’s worldwide reservations system.
The upcoming change returns the hotel at State and Lodge streets to its roots—it opened as a Hilton in 1981—but with plans for a thorough upgrade inside and out.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is part of the Hilton Worldwide, which has 3,750 hotels across 10 brands worldwide, including more than 540 Hilton hotels and resorts.
Crowne Plaza is part of Inter Continental Hotels Group, which has more than 4,500 hotels across seven brands worldwide, including 401 Crowne Plazas.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is characterized as “upper upscale,” and Crowne Plaza “upscale” by STR, ahospitality industry consultant in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
“An upscale hotel moving up to upper upscale normally implies an increase in average daily rates and an increase inavailable amenities and services,” said Jan Freitag, an STR analyst.
The Crowne Plaza owners, a subsidiary of aTexas-based investment firm that bought the property in April 2010,told city officials earlier this year they would spend$10 million on renovations.
There are indications the final amount could be higher.
A new management team has been assembled over the past few months that includes General Manager Art Thompson and Director of Sales and Marketing Jon Stultz. Stultz previously worked at The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center.
Neither Thompson nor a member of the ownership group were available to discuss the re-branding and renovation.
Michele Vennard, President and CEO of the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said she anticipates the newly named and improved hotel will debut in mid-2012.
“We need a major flagged hotel indowntown,” Vennard said, “because that’s how consumers buy. Whether they’rebuying as a group or individual, they’re buying the amenities of the brand.They’re buying the value-added of a brand.” She said the hotel “needs to berefreshed.”