One of downtown Traverse City’s gems on the water is undergoing its most ambitious “polishing” ever: The Holiday Inn West Bay, purchased by an investment group last fall, is in the middle of an ambitious, $4.5 million renovation – and The Ticker got an exclusive glimpse.
First the background: Among the new ownership’s first actions was to hire Interstate Hotels as the hotel operator; Interstate is the nation’s largest third-party hotel management company, and one that specializes in “turnaround” situations. Interstate’s leadership team promptly installed its own team, including Sales Director Tomas Paddack, recruited from San Francisco. Longtime Holiday Inn General Manager Deborah Brown was retained and still runs the hotel.
The renovation timeline is aggressive by almost any standard. Every inch of 179 rooms, 5,500 square feet of meeting space, two pools, two restaurants, a lobby and beachside patio are being overhauled for a scheduled early June opening. But the task is nothing new to Milwaukee-based Wave Renovations, specialists in hotel renovation project management. On any given day, more than 100 workers are toiling throughout the property, including representatives from local subcontractors.
For years the Holiday Inn on West Bay had been a source of real estate and hotel industry speculation; its location was priceless, but who would step forward to invest in a full-scale upgrade? Now, its new owners and operators have an additional selling point: the property will be the first Holiday Inn Resort-branded property outside the east or west coasts. To earn the Holiday Inn Resort designation, a property must meet several standards, including being located on the water.
Highlights of the renovation include:
Shimmers, the (in)famous dance club, will remain with a new twist; the new Shimmers on the Bay will be part restaurant, part nightclub, with access to the outdoor patio, live entertainment and dining seven days a week
The beachfront patio itself and tiki bar will get a full overhaul, complete with firepits, full dining service, and a more modern look
Meeting space is expanded, all guest rooms have a more upscale appearance, and the bistro breakfast area – located adjacent to the outdoor pool – will serve Starbucks.
Adding sprinklers throughout the building represents the biggest single cost of the renovation, totaling more than a half million dollars. Ramps and other improvements make the property accessible to those with disabilities – and to government meetings and conventions business.
So will all the improvements lead to higher room rates?
“Yes, higher,” Paddack tells The Ticker, “but not significantly higher. We will have great value here,” adding that its views of the Bay and proximity to downtown are unrivaled.
To view a photo slideshow of renovation inside the Holiday Inn and renderings of how the completed project will look, click on the photo above.