Merchants look forward to Antlers hotel renovation

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Downtown merchants and business owners are excited that the Antlers Adam’s Mark is undergoing renovation. Stores, restaurants and event venues foresee an increased business as a result of the changes, which should be completed by the end of the year.
The owners of the hotel, Pyramid Hotel Group and the Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund, are spending $7-million to $10-million to update the historic landmark – a move they hope will attract more businesses and national conventions to the area.
“Renovations are always good,” said Stephen Martin, director of the Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave. “It creates a renewed excitement about the hotel property in the community, and more national clients will have an effect on our business.
“The more tourists you have in town, the more people will be looking to see some type of show or entertainment,” Martin said. “When people are in town on business at the Antlers, they enjoy the close proximity to the Pikes Peak Center. Especially when we have large Broadway shows here, clients will come over from the Antlers.”
Martin said that if the Antler’s meeting rooms get full, the Pikes Peak Center could provide a venue for events. “In addition, opportunities exist to package their hotel rates with shows at Pikes Peak Center,” Martin said. “The Antler’s would have to take the initiative, but they can do a room-block for a show or set of shows. Any time there’s a renovation, it creates more energy in town, and there will be more people in town that will come down and buy a ticket to see a show at the Pikes Peak Center.”
Jerry Rutledge, owner of Rutledge’s men’s specialty store, 1 S. Tejon St., said many of the downtown merchants he knows are excited about the Antler’s renovation.
“There is great potential for action in downtown Colorado Springs right now,” Rutledge said. “Larry Vitagliano, the hotel’s new general manager, has the potential to take it up a notch. He’s very well-liked; he did a great job at the Antlers in the past. The change of focus for the Antlers to attract more business and national convention customers is awesome, and I think everyone feels that way.”
He also said the changes at the hotel are likely to benefit his business.
“Sales wise it will affect my store very positively,” Rutledge said. “For a certain number of business or professional men or women, sometimes it’s easier for them to shop when they are traveling if there is a quality store nearby. You’d be surprised how many times travelers arrive somewhere only to realize they forgot an essential or accessory such as underwear, socks or a sport coat. With the Antlers nearby, it’s easy for them to come by for a quick solution.”
Greg Howard, general manager of Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., just across Cascade Avenue from the Antlers, said he is looking forward to the new management and predicted growth.
“The sales department at the Antlers will bring more people into the city with the renovation, and that will benefit the restaurant,” Howard said. “We often have clients come over from the Antlers for dinner and drinks. We also hold weddings and other events in our third-floor banquet hall, and it’s nice to be able to recommend the Antlers as a place to stay. The improvements will only help.”
The hotel renovation will encompass 27,000 square feet of meeting space, 292 guest rooms, two restaurants and the hotel lobby. The hotel will remain open during the renovation.
Pyramid will add soft lighting to the meeting rooms to create a comfortable atmosphere for social affairs, and cluster seating outside the meeting rooms.
Also included in the renovations will be free hardwired Internet access in all guest rooms, meeting rooms and public spaces, Vitagliano said. “This will attract more business people, and in turn be an incentive for convention-goers,” he said.
The Antlers operates as a franchise of St. Louis-based Adam’s Mark Hotels and Resorts, but Vitagliano said Pyramid is negotiating with another national chain. A new franchise agreement is expected to be announced within the next two months.
“We’ll have the penetration to sell to other cities,” Vitagliano said. “And we will be better able to compete with other cities our size for convention business.”
Through the affiliation, the Antler’s marketing efforts will be tied in with the franchisor’s national advertising. Branding for corporate, group and leisure travel will be a priority, Vitagliano said.
“By attracting more business to the hotel, the downtown merchants will see increased business in many sectors,” Vitagliano said. “This will include retail stores, restaurants, entertainment venues and the like.”
— Jan.Mowle@csbj.com