Growing out of a corporate branding initiative that began in November 2010, Radisson’s “Ambition 2015” project has set out $1.5 billion for its North American hotels alone.
“This initiative raises the game of the service levels and products provided by the Radisson properties in the U.S.,” said Tim Rayman, director of hotels for Greenleaf Hospitality Group, which operates the Kalamazoo facility. “Looking at occupancy and traffic, we decided it was time to update our product.”
Rayman said the hotel, while modern on the outside, was a little outdated and worn inside. The renovations include all the hotel’s guest rooms, meeting rooms, the lobby and front desk, the ninth floor concierge lounge as well as the Arcadia Ballroom. With the work roughly 30-percent done, Rayman said the company anticipates completion in December.
“When it comes to the ballroom, it’s going to put us back on the map as one of the nicest spaces in downtown Kalamazoo,” Rayman said. “There is increased competition all the time. Reinventing yourself is important to being a leader in the industry.”
Rayman said trends in LED lighting, increased technology and more personalized experience are leading the design concepts in hospitality. He said the company is trying to make as many green and energy-conscious decisions as it can. He said the use of LED lighting and new ductwork will help with energy costs.
One major change is the creation of several pod stations where guests will be able to check in.
Rayman said a lot of hotels undergoing a remodeling project are switching to the pod station model because it makes registration for guests a more comfortable, private and personalized experience.
“What this allows us to do is improve our customer service cores,” he said. “Customers are becoming smarter, and smarter travelers are looking for the newest innovations. They want more value at the price point they pay.”
Beyond keeping up with the “constant change” of guest expectations, Rayman said the company’s key challenge is keeping the hotel running smoothly throughout the construction process.
In hopes of engaging potential clients for use of the new facilities, the hotel has started tours of the construction and has plans for several unveiling events throughout the year.
Rayman said the budget for the project is still up in the air, and the company is not ready to announce project costs just yet.
M.W. VanderVeen Co. is the construction management firm on the project. The company previously performed renovations for Greenleaf Hospitality in 2002.
“Obviously, the largest challenge on our part is making sure the work is done in sequence,” Jerry VanderVeen, president of M.W. VanderVeen Co., told MiBiz. “Our goal is to be least disruptive to the day-to-day operations.”
VanderVeen said the guest rooms are renovated floor by floor, starting with the top floor and working down. Each floor is on a seven-week to eight-week cycle. Crews recently started work on the seventh floor. He said about 20 different subcontractors are working on the project, with about 30 to 40 crew members working onsite each day.
“The rooms look similar to the Radisson Blue in Chicago, which is one of (Radisson’s) flagship hotels,” VanderVeen said. “The changes are going to give the hotel a more urban, European feel that’s kind of a trend in hospitality right now.”
Lundwall Låstbom Design & Procurement, an interior design firm from Sweden with a U.S. base in Minneapolis, is responsible for the room design.
“With a high design project like this, it’s got to execute well,” VanderVeen said. “It’s very schedule-driven, and there is a lot of repetition when you’re renovating rooms.”
From a logistical standpoint, VanderVeen said design planning and mockup are key because the goal is to take rooms out of service and put them back in service as quickly as possible.