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Doubletree Opening Slated June 1; Will It Trigger Explosion of Growth?

More Than $1 Million in Business Already Booked; Hiring Set to Begin

February 28, 2004       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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"DoubleTree Hotel Riverfront Bay City" sign now up on 150 room riverfront facility.
In a bow to Bay City's rich history, DoubleTree is naming its meeting rooms in the conference center after three major shipbuilders, Capt. James Davidson, Harry J. Defoe and Frank W. Wheeler.

      Will the opening of the new hotel-conference center on the riverfront, officially named "DoubleTree Hotel Riverfront Bay City," trigger an explosion of growth downtown?

      City developers like Bob Sarow, member of the board of Wenonah Park Properties, Inc., sure hope so. They would like to see Bay City follow the example of Trenton, New Jersey, where a similar project in 1996 started a boom. Several other hotels and many new business structures have sprung up around the hotel, creating a revival of a decaying urban center.

      The question of whether the world will beat a path to the door of One Wenonah Park Place, Bay City, MI 48708, will be answered soon. The telephone at 989-891-6000 may also be ringing off the hook, downtown supporters hope.

      Last fall officials of Acquest Realty Advisors, a Bloomfield Hills firm that has done major developments in Midland and around the country, projected "global economic impact" of $21 million a year from the new Bay City center.


An immediate positive sign is the fact that the hotel has already booked over $1 million in banquet and group conference business three months before the scheduled opening.

      DoubleTree executives Patrick Hixson, manager, and Tim Shelton, marketing manager, have linked the new hotel with Bay City's fabulous history by naming the three main meeting rooms after three major shipbuilders, Capt. James Davidson, Harry J. Defoe and Frank Wheeler.

      Sheltondescribed DoubleTree as "an upscale brand, but informal, business oriented, but luxury." Each hotel reflects the regional environment, he said.

      Guests will get a chocolate chip cookie with their room, ranging up to $299 for the Wenonah Suite on the sixth floor. There are 147 regular guest rooms, a junior suite and two suites.

      "Even though we haven't been able to take people through the building yet, it sells itself," said Shelton.

      The present six employees will be boosted to 120 in the next 90 days, according to Shelton, who spoke last week to the Bay City Rotary Club.

      Food and beverage director Bob Arndt, a native of Vassar, lately general manager of the Frankenmuth Brewery, is on board and Executive Chef Hermann Schweiger, an Austrian who has been at the Davenport Inn, Saginaw, and spent 10 years at the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, is soon to join the staff.

      "Hermann owned his own restaurant in Holland and also worked at the Soaring Eagle Casino; he is really going to be an asset," predicted Shelton. Arndt, who also has a background as a chef at resorts in Florida, spent eight years with the Applebee's chain in the mid-Michigan area.

      Construction and completion of furnishing the hotel is on schedule, said Shelton. Drywall is done, carpets are down, wall covering is going up in the conference center, chandeliers are hung in the grand ballroom, bathrooms are 90 percent complete and furniture arrives this week. Major construction is slated to be complete by April 9, the building will be fine tuned in May and opened June 1.

      DoubleTree will have 120 surface parking spaces and room for 200 vehicles in the parking deck. Shelton said parking should be "adequate most of the time." Employees will be asked to park elsewhere during peak business periods, he said.

      The hotel staff will move from its basement temporary office to larger quarters upstairs in City Hall this week and will shift operations to the hotel April 1. "We'll get the sales office set up and slowly get the staff in for training," added Shelton.

      The marketing manager, a graduate of Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, most recently has been at the Valley Plaza,near Midland, previously spent 15 years at the Indianapolis Marriott and also has experience at Sheraton.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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