Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Marriott hotel open for business

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 12:04 AM CDT

Owensboro has a new 109-room hotel open for business at 3120 Highland Pointe Drive just off Kentucky 54.

The Courtyard by Marriott, a $10-million-plus project, opened Thursday.

"Our focus is on giving people options," General Manager Ruth Ann Dearness said.

LinGate Hospitality Group, headquartered in Owensboro, owns and manages the four-story hotel that will operate as a Marriott franchise.
Dearness has returned to Owensboro after 11 years managing the Louisville East Hilton Garden Inn.

Her career in the hotel/hospitality industry includes several years in Owensboro as director of operations and general manager of the Executive Inn Rivermont and general manager of the Fairfield Inn.

She also worked at a LinGate hotel in Atlanta before moving to Louisville.

Dearness said the hotel is the first to sport what the franchise calls a refreshing business concept designed for business travelers or those who are on a pleasure trip.

The hotel has 35 employees now, with some of the same staff Dearness worked with at the Executive Inn and Fairfield Inn.

Just inside the hotel and to the right is The Bistro restaurant, which serves both breakfast and dinner and has Starbucks coffee available all day.

Neighbors from nearby professional offices already have discovered Starbucks at the Bistro, Dearness said.

The open-spaced area includes a variety of seating options with bright orange chairs.

The Bistro will have menu changes about once per quarter, she said.

"A lot of the focus now is on healthier food choices, and our focus will reflect that with quality, healthy foods, core menu items and seasonal selections," Dearness said.

The area is transformed at night to feature a full bar.

Along the outside wall are media booths with televisions and Internet connections providing guests with private work stations.

On the north wall just steps away from check-in is the GoBoard, a 57-inch, touch-screen television where guests can catch up on the news and identify local points of interest. It allows guests to print directions to the sites.

The lobby is a large, open space decorated with plenty of orange and blue and gold tones with a huge TV, a gas fireplace, library area and plenty of seating.

"We want this to be a place where guests can feel comfortable like it's their home and not just where they have to stay," Dearness said. "And everywhere you go, you'll find places to connect to the Internet."

The patio is designed for relaxation with lounge areas and large gas fire pit.

"When the weather breaks, this is going to be a great place for gathering," Dearness said.

The hotel also features an indoor swimming pool and fitness center.

The hotel's smallest room in size, the king standard, includes a king-sized bed, 32-inch TV, sofa/bed and a full, glassed-in shower in the bathroom. It has 362 square feet.

The Queen Standard room is a bit larger at 392 square feet.

Another option is Full King Suite at 728 square feet, which includes a king-sized bed, sleeper sofa, work station and couch, coffee nook, and plenty of seating.

That suite connects to a room that has two queen-sized beds providing more options.

An Executive Queen Suite also is available with 560 square feet of space.

"It's exciting to have a brand new hotel in Owensboro," said Karen Miller, executive director of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Dearness will be a guest speaker at the bureau's meeting today.

"It's beautiful," Miller said of the new hotel. "I think it raises the bar for a visitor's experience with the new concept they've introduced. It also increases the opportunity for us to go after additional business whether it's meetings, sports or other venues."

The convention and visitors bureau is counting on an increase in revenue this year from the room tax receipts the new hotel will generate.

The Executive Inn Rivermont closed in June 2008, taking 413 rooms out of Owensboro's offerings for visitors.

The Courtyard by Marriott is the first new hotel in Owensboro since the Comfort Suites opened on Salem Drive in 2002.

LinGate operates 19 hotels.

The new hotel's rates start at $99 per night.

A public event to show the hotel is planned for Sept. 18, Dearness said.