Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Binghamton Riverwalk Hotel and Conference Center will have a new name this fall. Hilton DoubleTree selected the site to join its national chain. Now, its mission is to enhance what the community and the Riverwalk already offers.
"Whether it's Binghamton Double Tree by Hilton, or DoubleTree of Hilton by Binghamton, we're not certain yet," says Bud Nolan, General Manager at the Binghamton Riverwalk Hotel and Conference Center.
The transition is already about 95 percent complete. The garden level, lobby and restaurant area are good to go. Next up, crews must gut and refurnish 207 guest rooms on 9 floors.
"They have to be taken completely down to concrete, scraped clean and brought back up again. Every room will be brand spankin' new," Nolan explains. "The furnishing packages, the drapes, the blinds, the vinyl, the carpet, the bathrooms, all [of] that needs to be redone."
On the walls, you'll see locally-inspired artwork. In fact, Binghamton's history was a big draw for Hilton DoubleTree.
"Hilton looked at this market and said this is something that we want a DoubleTree in. There's a lot of interesting local history here. I think that's part of what drove them to say yes," Nolan, employed with Newport Hospitality Group, says.
The national chain is looking for local flavor. It wants to be part of our community.
"They'd want you to purchase as much locally as you can in terms of food and beverage," Nolan says. "When people come they don't want you to [see] a cookie cutter hotel, they want it to be representative of the community in which it exists."
DoubleTree will also cater to the community beyond Greater Binghamton, serving as a home away from home for parents of University students and business.
"We expect to be a market leader in occupancy. Occupancies in this area last year ran in the mid 60's, so we anticipate being at that level," says Nolan. "That roughly doubles where we are today."
The crew aspires for double the occupancy with the DoubleTree brand.
Right now, rates at the Riverwalk are about $119 a night. Nolan says when the transition is complete, rates will run about $150 or $160 a night.
The target for project completion is October or November, 2012.
There could be as many as 55 new employees as well.
Newport Hospitality Group will continue to operate the hotel.
Alfred and Alan Weisman will remain the owners.