Hotel Case Study: At Your Service
By Anne Cosgrove
From the September 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
The new Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel has been open for several months, ushering in a new era for downtown Oshkosh, WI. Renovating the 131,000 square foot, eight story facility took a little more than a year, the result of an effort to not only revitalize a languishing hotel property but also to attract new business to the adjoining convention center.
The hotel’s current owner, Oshkosh Investors, LLC, completed the purchase of the existing facility in February 2012, but the wheels had been set in motion several years earlier when Richard Batley, president of RB Hospitality of Neenah, WI, explains that his company had considered purchasing the hotel. “We almost bought it five years ago, and it didn’t work out, but we had stayed in touch with the city since then,” he says.
Batley’s company is one of three entities that make up Oshkosh Investors—the other partners being Pfefferle Companies, Inc. and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation. Leading up to this partnership, the university had been considering building a hotel on its campus to accommodate visitors. Eventually, it was decided that the university would partner with RB Hospitality and Pfefferle Companies to purchase and renovate the City Center Hotel—now the Best Western Premier Waterfront.
Originally built in the 1980s, this facility was operating at about 10% occupancy when the current owner came on board. The team recognized that an extensive overhaul of both the facility and the operational structure was needed. Says Batley, “We knew this was going to be a virtually new hotel after the renovation. Besides the exterior structure, everything is new except for the marble in the lobby and the bathtubs in the guestrooms.”
Dan Schetter, CHA, general manager, arrived at the hotel in April 2012, and his initial focus was two-fold. He was heavily involved in the hotel renovation, while also tasked with bringing the adjoining convention center up to speed. “I first assembled the management team for the convention center,” he explains. “An important part of making this property successful was preselling it. We put our operations team in place for the hotel as well, hiring the food and beverage director, the director of sales, and director of catering.”
A Chat With Dan Schetter
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