JW Marriott Features Sister Cities

May 15, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Alticor Inc. has announced that its new JW Marriott Grand Rapids will incorporate a sister cities theme that plays up the city’s relationship with its five sister cities: Omihachiman, Japan; Perugia, Italy; Bielsko-Biala, Poland; Ga District, Ghana; and Zapopan, Mexico.

According to plans outlined last week by hotel officials and Grand Rapids Sister Cities International, the entire hotel, including public spaces, meeting rooms, guest rooms and parking decks, will feature art inspired by each of the sister cities. The group also announced its plan to bid on hosting the four-day 2009 Annual Convention of Sister Cities International that’s expected to attract as many as 1,000 visitors.

“The concept holds the prospect of both expanding relationships with our own cities and creating an international showcase for the sister city program throughout the country,” said David Mix, president of the Sister Cities Committee.

Steve Wilson, president of the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said an international event such as the Sister Cities International convention would expose the new hotel, the DeVos Place Convention Center and the community at large to an important national and international audience.

“Most importantly, the unique sister city theme for the JW Marriott Grand Rapids will lead to increased economic exchanges with our five sister cities. Our many friends overseas will be pleased and proud to have their cities celebrated in the heart of our city in such a beautiful setting,” Wilson remarked.

According to George Aquino, who will serve as general manager of the new hotel, the JW Marriott Grand Rapids will be the first and only JW Marriott in the Midwest. There are now 35 worldwide. The hotel is currently under construction and is slated to open in the fall of 2007.

The hotel has commissioned renowned international photographer Dan Watts to travel to all five sister cities and capture distinctive photographs from each. Those images will be displayed throughout the hotel. The city’s local artist community is also being tapped for “sister cities inspired art” pieces that could be used, as well.

Mayor George Heartwell said he believes the sister cities theme will make the JW Marriott Grand Rapids an exciting and interesting place to visit and will place the hotel “in the forefront of hotels around the world focusing on international themes.”    

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