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Marriott unveils $8 million makeover for 30th anniversary

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Charleston Town Center Marriott caps an $8 million top-to-bottom renovation today with a 30th anniversary celebration.

David Marriott, chief operations officer for Marriott International's Eastern Region, said one of the first things hotel guests and visitors will notice is that the traditional long front desk has been replaced with pods.

With the new configuration, front desk personnel can come out from behind the pods "and greet guests in a more personable manner," Marriott said. "It enables our staff to engage better with the customer."

Another change: "The lobby is much more user-friendly and relevant. I think you'll see more activity in the lobby and restaurant."

The new lobby is what Marriott International calls its "Great Room" concept. The lobby has new furniture, a new fireplace and a new "Day/Night Bar" that will seat about 50 people.

Marriott 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.

Now people want to come down to the public space, enjoy meeting people, and hang out."

The hotel opened Sept. 15, 1982. Steve Lemmerman, general manager, said the 30th anniversary celebration was set back to today so the renovations would be completed.

Today's activities include a 2 p.m. press conference and a 4 to 7 p.m. reception for invited guests.

"We've sent out close to 500 invitations," Lemmerman said. "There is no sit-down event. Guests can walk through. There will be several food and drink stations throughout the lobby area." Guests also can inspect some of the hotel's remodeled rooms.

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.

Inland said it would renovate the hotel when it announced the acquisition. As the owner, Inland is paying for the renovation. Marriott said, "We worked closely with them on the design, on what sort of product we would get. We wanted to make sure it adheres to standards and is positioned well for success."

Lemmerman said Inland is expected to have at least four or five top executives at today's events to celebrate the anniversary and see the renovations. Also today, the seven employees who have worked at the hotel since it opened will be honored.

Other invited guests include dignitaries, customers, associates and off-site salespeople.

Marriott said, "I was asked to come but they moved the date and I couldn't change my schedule. I will be in Charleston on the 12th of December to spend some time with the associates and see the new renovations. I look forward to that."

The Charleston Marriott Town Center is a full-service hotel with 352 guest rooms and 17,500 square feet of meeting and banquet space.

Retired football great Sam Huff was instrumental in getting J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr., Marriott International's chairman and chief executive officer, to open a hotel in Charleston.

Huff, a Farmington native, worked 27 years for the company, booking sports teams and broadcast crews into Marriott properties on weekends, when the hotel chain needed business most.

Huff owned 5 percent of the Charleston hotel until a few years ago.

David Marriott, 39, is Bill Marriott's youngest son. David oversees about 220 properties that Marriott International manages plus 400 franchised properties in the company's Eastern Region, "so I'm bouncing all around," he said in a phone interview.

Even though the Charleston hotel is within his domain and he has known Huff for years, David said he has not visited Charleston before. "My visit on the 12th of December will be my first," he said. "I've been trying to get out there. I'm looking forward to seeing the hotel.

" I know Sam did have a small ownership stake in the hotel," he said. "He was always very interested in the hotel, how it was doing. I remember we've had a couple of conversations the last couple of years. He was concerned that the hotel needed a facelift. I assured him that would be coming.

"And now the hotel has been completely reinvented. It's a brand new hotel. And it's really exciting."

Contact writer George Hohmann at or 304-348-4836.Marriott by the numbers

The Marriott has been operating in Charleston for more than 30 years. Here are some facts and figures about the hotel:

  • Opened: Sept. 15, 1982
  • Number of guests: 2.8 million
  • Estimated economic impact: $90 million
  • Number of groups served: 23,000
  • Current number of rooms: 352
  • Restaurant seating: 150
  • Renovations: $8 million
  • Conference room space: 17,500 sq. ft.




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