in Jeffersonville finishing $1.3M renovations
By ELIZABETH BEILMAN
Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2016 7:30 am
Sheraton Hotel Reno
A completed room, fitted with a king bed and new decor is pictured at the Sheraton Hotel in Jeffersonville.
JEFFERSONVILLE — Timing is everything behind the $1.3 million in renovations at the Sheraton Louisville Riverside Hotel, meant to refresh the 180-room building with a view of Louisville.
Patrick Gregory, general manager at the Jeffersonville hotel, said he's anticipating the completion of the Ohio River Bridges Project this year and of the Kentucky International Convention Center expansion opening in 2018.
"We want to be ready and finished when those two things happen," Gregory said.
Renovations at the Sheraton are nearing the end, as work moves into the final phase — upgrading the guest tower, which includes new carpet and furniture in rooms and new carpet and vinyl in the 10 guest corridors. Those renovations should be finished by the end of March.
Work began about a year ago, with a full renovation of the flooring and furniture in the lobby in addition to upgraded digital signage throughout the hotel's meeting space. The focus then shifted to exterior renovations of the Bristol Bar & Grille that is connected to the Sheraton's lobby and carpet and furniture upgrades in the commercial area and annexation.
Though these improvements aren't small, they're mostly cosmetic and much less involved than the $20 million worth of structural renovations the Sheraton underwent in 2008.
"There's not any heavy construction," he said. "There's more guest experiences renovation because it's just newer products for the guests to use."
Yet they're improvements that make the Sheraton more competitive in the Louisville area's booming hotel industry, said Jim Epperson, executive director for the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau. Many hotels are opening or have opened in Louisville, including the Omni Hotel downtown, Hilton Garden Inn and Aloft.
"So that investment in new hotels drives that reinvestment in existing hotels," Epperson said. "And so we've got our own reason for that kind of boom."
Hotel renovations aren't kept secret.
"The hotels will put information like that on their websites and their descriptions probably within the booking sites like Orbitz, and then if they are able to maintain a listing with their information on Trip Advisor, they'll tout that wherever they can," he said.
And it's not just hotel owners who advertise their freshened facades.
"If you've got a customer doing a Trip Advisor rating who's ... paying attention, they'll probably say something about the renovation, too," Epperson said.
Gregory said he hopes the Sheraton's recent improvements can increase the hotel's annual average occupancy rate of about 70 percent over the next few years.
He also hopes the spill-off from Louisville's growing hotel market can attract a new customer base to the Sheraton.
"It's going to make us a property where some of the higher-end clientele will choose, and that's what we want," Gregory said.
High-end customers are usually better guests in general — they're better to each other, they take care of the property and they pay higher premiums, he said.
For a long time, the Sheraton has been one of the few hotels in the area near the Ohio River.
Epperson said that's about the change.
Marriott Towneplace Suites is locating at the former Rose Hill Elementary School property across from Big Four Station in downtown Jeffersonville. Epperson said he's heard whisperings of other locations for new hotels, such as the Gateway property at 10th and Spring streets and near River Ridge Commerce Center, both in Jeffersonville.
"We've always thought that as River Ridge develops, the demand for business travel increases, and so that will create demand for rooms on this side of the river," he said. "And so I think a lot of the interest in new hotel development on this side is not just because of what's going on in Louisville, but it's also responsive to River Ridge."
While the Sheraton will be joined by many new hotels in Louisville and Southern Indiana in the coming years, Gregory still looks ahead toward his establishment's prosperity.
"We've had a great run here in Jeffersonville, and we're interested in upgrading the facility so we can be successful in the years to come," Gregory said.