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8/12/2004

Raintree hotel getting $3M renovation, changing its name

By Paula Aven Gladych
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — The Raintree Plaza Hotel & Conference Center is in the midst of a $3 million renovation and name change.

The hotel is buying new furniture, replacing carpeting, tearing down mirrors, painting its walls with modern colors and putting Sleep Number beds in every room.

And by November, the Raintree will fly the Radisson banner, changing its name to the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center Longmont/Boulder.

Phil Marti, director of Pratt Properties LP and president of Plaza Hotel Corp., said that by purchasing the Radisson franchise, Pratt will be able to add a “new layer of service and amenities” for its customers.

The hotel, which has 210 rooms and 30,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space, will now be on the cutting edge of technology, with wireless Internet access available in every room and new, larger television sets.

The Radisson will continue to be owned and operated by Pratt, but changes in the hospitality industry have made it imperative that independent hotels become affiliated with more powerful brands, Marti said.

By affiliating with Radisson, the hotel will have access to the hotel chain’s extensive network of hotels, a staff of travel coordinators and a computerized reservation system.

Radisson also will provide training opportunities for staff and access to a huge, global customer base.

The Raintree, which was built 21 years ago to cater to the business traveler, has seen the needs of its clients change over the past two decades, Marti said.

Computerization and the Internet have changed the way hotels do business. Also, “major hotel brands dominate the marketplace more than they did 20 years ago,” Marti said.

Pam Hill, the Raintree’s general manager, said “expectations have changed. Travelers are a lot more savvy than they used to be because of the Internet. We are going global.”

The “level of comfort we provide to customers continues to increase,” Marti said. The organization is adding a gift shop and a massage therapist on site. The Sleep Number beds by Select Comfort are an addition the hotel is excited to provide.

“It is the most technologically advanced sleep system in the world,” Marti said, with people able to set their side of the bed to the firmness they prefer.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the hotel industry has had a difficult time, especially in 2002 and 2003, Marti said.

Pratt had planned to renovate the Raintree before the terrorist attacks happened, but it delayed its investment until the market rebounded.

Business has “improved markedly” in 2004, Marti said, with reservations approaching the pace they were at prior to September 2001.

The lobby is getting a major makeover, with stone-tiled floors, a stone fireplace and a new reception desk. In the conference center, the pink walls and bronze-mirrored wall are going away. They will be replaced with more sedate colors.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Hill said.

Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 211, or by e-mail at pavengladych@times-call.com.