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Charleston hotels getting a new look

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston-area hotel owners are pouring millions of dollars into their hotels to give them much-needed facelifts.

The old Charleston House hotel along Kanawaha Boulevard - bought by the BBL Hospitality firm for about $5 million in September 2011 - is in the midst of a $15 million renovation.

BBL Hostpitality announced plans to renovate the 12-story hotel, currently called the Charleston Ramada, which overlooks Haddad Riverfront Park, shortly after buying it.

When renovations are complete, the newly remodeled, 176-room hotel will be re-branded as a Four Points by Sheraton Hotel.

Four Points is one of nine brands owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. The new Four Points by Sheraton hotel will be the first Starwood-brand hotel in West Virginia when it is complete.

Hotel officials have described the Four Points brand as "a full-service mini-Sheraton," since the 176 rooms is slightly less than found at other Sheraton hotels.

The hotel is currently sectioned off into work and non-work zones and is remaining open during the renovations.

Officials plan to install an indoor pool and convert the top two floors into condominiums.

One portion of the renovations that is already complete is the new Recovery Sports Grill, a sports-themed restaurant located on the hotel's ground floor along Virginia Street.

The 6,400-square-foot restaurant and pub is lined with dozens of flat-screen televisions tuned to sports and news programming throughout the day. The restaurant opened in October.

While renovations at the Charleston House are under way, officials in November celebrated the completion of an $8 million renovation to the Charleston Town Center Marriott.

Inland American Lodging Inc., an affiliate of Oak Brook, Ill.-based Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc., bought the Charleston Marriott in February 2011 from Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises Inc. for $25.5 million.

At that time, the new owners announced intentions to renovate the hotel's 352 rooms and lobby.

The renovations were complete in time to celebrate the hotel's 30th anniversary last year.

Marriott International Eastern Region chief operations officer David Marriott said in November the renovations to the lobby were designed to make the area more user-friendly and relevant.

The traditional long front desk was replaced with pods that allow front desk personnel to come out and interact with guests.

The new lobby follows Marriott International's "Great Room" concept. It has new furniture, a new fireplace and a new "Day/Night Bar" which seats about 50 people.

Marriott said the redesign is designed encourage guests to spend time in other parts of the hotel beside their rooms.

"I think you'll see more activity in the lobby and restaurant," he said. "In the past, people would tend to hang out in the guest rooms and not use the public space as much except for meals and meetings."

Since it opened Sept. 15, 1982, 2.8 million guests have stayed at the hotel and more than 23,000 groups have been served by the hotel's 17,500 square feet of conference room space.

Officials estimate the hotel has had a total economic impact of $90 million for downtown Charleston.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-5148.



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