Crowne Plaza Has A Resort Flavor

March 26, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — The 320-room Crowne Plaza on 28th Street SE has made some interesting changes over the past year, spurred, in part, by the business the new downtown convention center is expected to generate.

“Part of our business plan is to participate in the room nights associated with convention center business — and room business as a whole — coming to Grand Rapids,” said David Rijos, general manager.

Last year Crowne Plaza launched a targeted marketing and promotions campaign directed at association and corporate group markets, and added two sales people to help drive its convention business.

The hotel’s owners added 4,000 square feet of meeting room space to the former 19,000-square-foot hotel last summer as part of a $2.5 million renovation.

The project includes renovation of the hotel’s restaurant, The Crowne Room, and its sports bar, The Tavern, both of which will be completed May 1.

Furthermore, the hotel teamed with Centennial Country Club last summer and with Charlevoix Fitness Club this year to offer guests “an attractive resort type of environment,” Rijos said.

“We’re trying to give guests an ‘all-inclusive’ kind of experience,” he explained.

Hotel guests automatically have privileges at Centennial’s 18-hole golf course situated on 17 acres next to the hotel.

Guests also have free use of the fitness club, which features fixed, free weight and cardiovascular equipment, a sauna, steam room and basketball and racquetball courts.

In addition, services at Design I hair salon and day spa across the street can be billed to the guest’s room.

The hotel offers all guests complimentary high-speed Internet access, as well, and boasts the largest meeting space outside of the downtown hotels, he added.

“No other full service hotel chain in town or in the industry offers free high-speed access,” Rijos noted. “We made a cognizant decision to do that.”

Over the past year Crowne Plaza also has converted a few rooms into “child friendly” rooms featuring a permanent crib, safety latches, a stroller, a baby sound-monitoring system and even a rubber ducky for the bathtub.

Crowne Plaza is located two miles from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, three miles from Woodland Shopping Center, seven miles from Frederik Meijer Gardens and eight miles by freeway from downtown Grand Rapids.

The hotel offers free transportation to and from the airport, Meijer Gardens and Cannonsburg Ski Resort.

Its “hotel packaging” program allows guests to bundle hotel rooms, meeting rooms, lunch breaks and activities, such as golf, exhibits at Meijer Gardens and shows at the Delta Plex.

Guests also can earn points toward free nights via the company’s Priority Club Rewards program and get room rate reductions on certain dates through its “Hot Dates” program.

Rijos serves on the board of the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and as chairman of the organization’s hotel and motel advisory committee.

A lot of the citywide conference packages have private charter transportation built into them, he observed.

“It’s the type of business that’s perfect when there is not enough room downtown. They can book into the market and still have transportation to go to several different facilities.”

CVB President Steve Wilson said the CVB can offer convention meeting planners a package that provides shuttle busing to outlying hotels. That kind of package is frequently offered to the larger convention groups that have more delegates than the downtown hotels can accommodate.

This summer, for instance, there’s a large convention booked that will be using well over 6,000 guest rooms throughout the county, he said.

CVB’s Team Grand Rapids, he noted, routinely sends sales leads to area hotels regarding all major conventions coming to town and invites them to submit information about their accommodations and rates.

“There’s a lot being done to work the suburban hotels into the picture and they clearly are in the picture.

“As the size of conventions go up and regular business of the downtown hotels gets displaced because of the convention business, the larger full service hotels in the suburbs are the first to pick up on that indirect business.”           

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