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‘Will take the hotel to another level’

By Kenneth V. Quintanilla HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Business Journal, Oct. 25, 2010) – By the second quarter of 2011, the Guam Marriott Resort and Spa will begin a US$25 million renovation that will "take the hotel to another level," said W. Scott Sibley, General Manager. The dates aren't confirmed because there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle that have to be put into place; it's not a simple process to go through," Sibley said.

He added that the entire renovation project is awaiting approval from the head office in Washington D.C. and Marriott's Architecture and Construction organization. No contractor or interior designer has been finalized for the project yet.

The Guam Marriott Resort and Spa announced its new ownership under Marianas Properties LLC in September, through its new owners have held the property note for sometime (See "No movement at Marriott; note holder to stay put," in the April 12 issue of the Journal.). Sibley will remain general manager, a position he has held for over four years under the new ownership.

Sibley said the renovation project would start with back of the house changes to make the hotel more efficient such as fixing chillers, boilers and air-handling units. The project involves making the hotel environment-friendly by burning less fuel and electricity, he added.

All the 357 rooms of the Guam Marriott will be renovated and redesigned. He said the rooms will continue to have the minimum Marriott standards that the hotel must follow such as having the Marriott-brand bed, shower, desk, telephones and specific size of flat-screen televisions. "That's one of the reasons we need to get the renovations going; we're not meeting the brand standards, he said. The rooms will have a new interior design, totally different room from what we have now."

The lobby renovation will be one of the bigger jobs of the project. "We'll hopefully have a new look for the front desk to look more interactive and there will be a special feature in the lobby which we can't disclose until closer to the opening date, Sibley said.

The new feature is waiting approval from the Marriott head office. This special feature is something that no other hotel has. It'll make the lobby completely different than the way it is now. It's more exciting, fun and interactive from breakfast to late evening," he added.

The project is expected to be completed within 18 months to two years. "If we can finish within the first quarter of 2012, that would be fantastic, Sibley said. It's hard to say if it will happen. Will there be enough labor to get with the military buildup and everything else that is going on will be the biggest factor."

In order to accommodate the Guam Marriott's two major markets the Japanese tourists and special corporate and military guests Sibley said additional changes will be made to the swimming pool, fitness center and Manhattan Steakhouse.

"The swimming pool and lobby will be the two focal points that'll change the look and feel of the hotel entirely, Sibley said. We hope to add four other features to the swimming pool that will make it extremely exciting and interactive that nobody else has on Guam." He would not disclose the exact details of this project in order to prevent another company from copying the idea.

The Manhattan Steakhouse will remain the same with only minor touch ups such as changing it to hardwood floors. The fitness center will no longer be run by Clark Hatch and will now be operated internally by the Marriott and expanded with more equipment.

Sibley said the hotel will not be closed at anytime during the renovations. "Some people have made choices to close their building [while undergoing renovations] to try to do it faster, but we're trying not to do that because we want to keep our associates employed, Sibley said. It's one of those things that when you [plan it], you got to do it, and get it done. It's somewhat painful as far as finance because you do lose some revenue but there's no way around it. I find these renovations worth it."

Marriott has a total of 210 employees and intends to hire about a dozen more employees to accommodate the new features with the lobby and swimming pool, Sibley said.

The Guam Marriott has not made any major renovations since taking over the Pacific Star hotel in 2000. The actual structure of the Guam Marriott is more than 21 years old.

The latest feature to the Guam Marriott is the six-hole mini golf course that was added about two months ago.

"It's definitely something the hotel was in need of, and one of the conversations we had with the new owner is that we would need to go into renovations immediately, Sibley said. As far as the new ownership, we're excited about it because they're locally based, they care about what's going on in Guam, they care about the team and they want to see the island grow business-wise."

Sibley said business for the Guam Marriott has been stable for the past four years. The hotel sees about 95 percent to 96 percent occupancy rates every first quarter and finishing the year with about 80 percent.

"We're looking to take the hotel to another level once we're renovated, Sibley said. Now that we have an owner that is ready to go, it's definitely exciting because it's finally going to happen."

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