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HOTELS MORE THAN A BED

By Linda Jarrett

Travelers, whether business or pleasure, are becoming more discerning when selecting a place to stay.

No more “I really only need a place to sleep and shower.” The days of getting excited over HBO and an in-room coffee maker are long gone.

St. Louis has always boasted its share of luxury hotels with such venerable institutions as the elegant Chase Park Plaza and the Roberts Mayfair Hotel. Now, with the need for hotels tailored to a particular traveler growing exponentially, others are either under construction or on the drawing board.

The hotel stock in St. Louis is soaring with over 7,600 rooms within a mile of America’s Center Convention Complex, and this growth shows no sign of slowing.

The Hilton Downtown

The 112-year old Merchants Laclede bank building houses the new Hilton St. Louis Downtown. Built in 1888, this eight-story building, one of the oldest examples of St. Louis’ first fireproof buildings, exemplifies old elegance and comfort for guests.

Located in the heart of downtown St. Louis at 4th and Olive Street, The Hilton is 15 miles from Lambert International Airport and within walking distance to many attractions, including Busch Stadium, The Gateway Arch, Edward Jones Dome, America Center, and the historic Laclede’s Landing

One of downtown’s premier historic buildings with its intricate stonework, the Hilton’s first floor lobby features much of the original marble and plasterwork from the original structure. The old bank vault is now a gift shop and Internet café.

Each of its 195 rooms, many of which were originally offices, opens off angular halls keeping in the character of an old office building. The high ceiling rooms with crown and base molding give visitors the sense of being in a 40’s hotel room, but with all the amenities of the 21st century.

These amenities include complimentary high speed Internet access, The Serenity Bed by Hilton, an in-room refrigerator, 27” television, two telephones with voice mail and data port, coffeemaker with complimentary coffee and tea.

General Manager Doug Johaningmeyer says their niche is the “heavy corporate traveler and small business meetings Monday through Thursday, but when the weekend comes, we have adults who are in town going to baseball or football games.”

With 5,000 square feet of meeting space, The Hilton fills a need for smaller meetings and social functions.

“We also do a lot of small business meetings, and rehearsal dinners for people who have their weddings downtown,” he adds.

Johaningmeyer says that the “hands-on” service separates the Hilton from other hotels. “Our guests get a lot of privacy and they recognize our service as outstanding. We take care of everything at any service level and people appreciate that, from social to business meetings.”

Owned and managed by Drury Development Corporation, the Hilton also offers covered parking, a state-of-the-art business center, full-service restaurant with above average food offerings, fitness center with circuit training strength machines and cardiovascular equipment, whirlpool tub, and same-day valet dry cleaning.

The Parkway Hotel

Adjacent to Washington University Medical Center, The Parkway Hotel serves the special needs of the medical community.

A skyway connects the hotel to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital which puts it in a unique position to house relatives and friends of hospital patients.

“We have folks coming in for diagnostic tests, and we house family members of patients being admitted to the hospital,” Rob Cardwell, director of sales, says, “That was where we found our niche, working in that area. Now, we’ve grown to meet other needs.”

The hotel’s proximity to the hospital and university complex has made it a focal point for medical meetings. It also partners with the Eric P. Newman Education Center, a 30,000-square-foot education facility which provides space for medical meetings.

“That’s been a part of our business that has grown since we’ve opened,” Cardwell says. “We serve the medical center in several ways, such as servicing visiting researchers. We actively solicit corporate meetings and in this area, we have biotech companies, medical equipment companies, and some start-ups.”

Cardwell says that while the Parkway is not a corporate affiliate, “we make up for it in other ways. Some travelers may want to collect points, but we are convenient to this campus, and if you want to get to a pharmaceutical or medical meeting, we and the EPNEC have the value of being on the campus.”

Opened in November 2003, The Parkway with 220 guest rooms, features 28 rooms that are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.

All rooms including 14 suites, feature custom furniture, high-speed Internet access, microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers, irons and ironing boards, multi-line phones and voice mail, VCR and hairdryers, all the amenities that make for a pleasant stay during circumstances that could be difficult for some customers.

Other amenities include two morning newspapers, complimentary evening hors d’ouevres and continental breakfast. The 8th Floor Concierge Level includes a unique section of ten rooms and suites that can be reserved as an exclusive wing and features a private kitchen to allow guests to bring their own chef. The hotel is located in St. Louis’ Central West End near Forest Park with its multitude of attractions.

The Loop’s Moonrise Hotel

University City visionary and entrepreneur Joe Edwards will soon be adding a boutique hotel to his list of accomplishments.

“I’ve always felt over the last decade that it was time for the Loop to have a hotel,” Edwards says. “It’s one of the last major pieces in the puzzle. There are the wonderful restaurants, the Pageant Night Club, Blueberry Hill. There are 10 places where people can hear live music in this six-block area.”

Edwards went on to list the St. Louis Walk of Fame, the Crafts Alliance, COCA, Washington University’s E. Desmond Lee Auditorium and the Regional Arts Commission as having a major presence in the area “with more things to come.”

He says the hotel is in response to questions from Loop visitors about where to stay after they’ve seen music groups perform at the many venues in the area.

“I think a lot of musicians will also stay here,” Edwards says. “Even if they’re playing the Amphitheater, or Scottrade in addition to The Loop. Many of them come here to go to different restaurants and music clubs, maybe see Chuck Berry or a band at the Pageant, and they want to know where they can stay that’s close.”

The seven-story boutique hotel, estimated at $23 million, will be constructed between the Pageant Theater and Pin-Up Bowl at 6177 Delmar Blvd. At 95,000 square feet, it will have 130 rooms with suites, a restaurant and bar, and rooftop patio.

“It will be a fun, interesting hotel as opposed to the chain hotels,” Edwards says. “It will be unique to St. Louis with its own design, feel and theme, and will add to the scene. I think people will find it interesting to stay here. It won’t be your typical hotel.”

He hopes to open the Moonrise by the end of 2008.

The Pinnacle

Late this year, Pinnacle Entertainment will debut their $495 million casino and hotel in the Laclede’s Landing entertainment district providing a destination place for business travelers and tourists alike.

The hotel, currently referred to as the Luxury Hotel at Lumiere Place, according to Pinnacle Spokesman Mack Bradley, will feature a casino, two restaurants, 200 rooms and a 12,000-square-foot spa and workout facility overlooking the St. Louis skyline.

Mario Maesano, senior director of marketing, says, “The casino itself will feature 2,000 slot machines, 50 table games, and five restaurants.”

Pinnacle has also acquired the former Embassy Suites which it will renovate at a cost of $15 million and rename the Suites at Lumiere Place. It will be attached to the new casino and hotel and spa by an elevated skywalk across Second Street.

“Although the luxury hotel will be unique in this market with the quality,” Bradley says, “the quality and amenities at that hotel will set a new bar in this market. We’ve been talking with the Four Seasons Hotel and resort, and they are an industry leader in terms of quality of service. So what I will call the ‘fit and finish’ of the building will be a class leader in this market.”

“We are shooting for a five star hotel,” Maesano says. “There is not one in this region. The average hotel has a staff to guest ratio from .5 to 1.25 staff per guest. We’re targeting for two to three staff per guest. It’s really hands-on personalized service for each guest. When you think of a five star hotel, they’re known for overservicing and attention to detail which you can do when you have that many employees per guest.”

The hotel will employ 1,200 staff.

Bradley says that there will be a 20-acre subsequent development that would include residential, retail and office space that would bring the total cost of the project to almost $1 billion. “We’re focused on Phase one,” he says. “Then we’ll turn to the second phase.”

To Sleep, Perchance, To Dream

Whatever the reason, visitors to St. Louis will have their chance to sleep and dream at these top-notch hotels in the arms of luxury. No one would expect less of Our Town.

 

 

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Cover Story with Rodger Riney, Scottrade
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ConocoPhillips
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Bob Wallace
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