Waterfront Place Hotel celebrates 10 years
By LACEY PALMER
FOR THE DAILY MAIL
MORGANTOWN - When the Waterfront Place Hotel opened its doors in 2003, it created a new elegant hub for residents and out-of-town guests to enjoy.
Now the hotel is celebrating its 10th anniversary by inviting clients, vendors and special guests to revisit the past as they also welcome the future.
The hotel has played host to many dignitaries and special guests over the years, providing them luxurious amenities including a 10,000-square-foot conference center, 205 guest rooms, six floors of luxury condominiums, a spa, a full-service fitness center, an indoor pool, the Regatta Bar & Grille and the Rat Pack Lounge.
The Waterfront opened as a brand hotel with Interstate Hotels Management Co. but was eventually sold to the Milan Puskar Revocable Trust through Real Hospitality group, which turned it into to an independent, boutique-style hotel.
This allowed the owners to be able to make decisions about renovations and accommodations based on guests' needs and desires, said Jennifer Millstone, director of sales and marketing.
"The difference of not being with a brand or a large company is that we can special cater and set things up with certain groups' budgets," Millstone said.
Deborah Matthews, director of catering, believes the hotel has been an incredible addition to the City of Morgantown.
"I think we have been a facility that was long needed in this area," Matthews said. "For years, we took care of Department of Education in Charleston, and since growing, we now take care of much larger groups that require much more technology, and we can actually accommodate them.
"Ten years ago there was not a facility in the northern part of the state that could take care of these groups with the technology needs they have."
The hotel provides a spacious meeting center, a facility for special events and parties and also brings in a great deal of jobs.
The Waterfront employs more than 200 people. The hotel's team is comprised of employees from Monongalia, Preston and Marion counties, and even parts of Pennsylvania.
"We're very community oriented," Millstone said. "We're all on committees in the city, and we also serve as a venue for large parties, galas and fundraisers. We don't have the place to do that anywhere else in Morgantown, so we offer a nice venue for those things.
"We can do more events that are sometimes held in Charleston here now, because we have a facility that is able to accommodate 1,000 people for a gala."
A major goal of the late Milan Puskar - one of the previous owners of the hotel - was to assist the local community.
"Milan Puskar was very big about giving back to the community, so we wanted to have a place where people could gather, have fun and have memorable experiences at the hotel," Millstone said.
With the addition of the 30,000-square-foot Morgantown Event Center adjacent to the hotel, the need for accommodations for conference attendees, business travelers, West Virginia University families, sports fans and other visitors skyrocketed.
"Right after we opened the event center, (Puskar) said to me, 'I always wanted a place where I could have all my employees in one room,' " Matthews said. "When we do Mylan Christmas parties, it's 1,300 people. For the past three holidays, we get everyone all in the room so I know he's happy about that."
The event space brings people back, but according to Millstone, the service provided by hotel staff is one of the more important aspects.
"I think the service especially brings everyone back," Millstone said. "A lot of people tell us we provide a family atmosphere and that we're a home away from home for guests.
"I think when guests know they're treated well, taken care of and their every need is met, people want to continue to stay and hold their business meetings and other events here."
Millstone said many staff members have been with the Waterfront for at least five years. Some have been there for seven.
"I think that does a lot for the customer to see those friendly, smiling faces that they've always known," Millstone said.
The hotel continues to grow and is looking forward to another 10 years.
"Every year you always have hopes and dreams as to what you want to see, so we don't know for certain, but we do want to continue to grow our business with the event center," Matthews said. "That's a big thing for us: bringing concerts and promotions and things like that to the property."
Overall, the hotel staff continues to strive and offer the best customer service possible to keep the name they've made for themselves in the community.
"We're very proud of this property," Matthews said.
"We worked hard to make it what it is, and we continue to strive and are passionate about it because our owner, Mr. Puskar, was passionate about service. Since his passing, we just want him to continue to be proud of that."
The Waterfront was named one of the top-ranked hotels on Expedia Insiders' Select in 2011 and was ranked in the top 500 out of 130,000 hotel properties worldwide.
To learn more about the hotel and the amenities it provides or to book a stay, call 304-296-1700 or visit www.waterfrontplace.com.