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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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McAllen
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The BIG Story: Embassy Suites Hotel – A New Transformation

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Embassy Suites Hotel, 1800 S. 2nd Street in McAllen was built in late 80’s with 260 suites.  Photos by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Embassy Suites Hotel, 1800 S. 2nd Street in McAllen was built in late 80’s with 260 suites.
Photos by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

 

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Excellence in comfort, beverage options to satisfy, and a culinary experience without parallel

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

When the Embassy Suites hotel was built back in the eighties, it became the number one full service hotel for McAllen and the region. The ability of a hotel to offer suites larger than a regular hotel room was not even known in this market at that time. The idea was good; consequently it became the perfect way for doing business. Up to this day, Embassy Suites still holds its valued offer against any other offer in the area.

Today it is literally another world; Hidalgo County has 92 hotels/motels, 37 of which are in McAllen making a total of 3216 rooms available in this city alone.

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Because of changing times and the fact that a tremendous growth is part of what is happening in the region, a renovation for the Embassy Suites facility is forth coming.

Currently under development there is a renovation plan to upgrade the property, “We will be modernizing the “essential” components of today including; bathrooms, work areas in the room and around the hotel, state of the art technology and so forth,” Ed McClure told Texas Border Business in Exclusivity. He continued, “We love the character of the hotel, which reflects the region and it looks like it belongs here. We will enhance it aesthetically as well as functionally.”

McClure is an extraordinary businessman whose company; Phoenix Hospitality Group has been retained by the owners of Embassy Suites to analyze and manage the Embassy Suites Hotel’s business from all angles. He and his team are in charge of creating a plan of action and executing the renovation activities, which will be extensive. In addition they are responsible for creating a new menu for the hotel restaurant and implementing the necessary changes to their beverage options and service to ensure catering and dining excellence equals the Suites.

McClure founded Phoenix Hospitality Group in 1987 capitalizing on his corporate career with Hyatt & Sheraton and his diverse experience managing luxury hotels like the La Mansion Hotels in San Antonio and others.

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Initially all their projects involved taking over management, creating a new vision for an asset, renovation, re-affiliating and repositioning to success. But eventually they began to build new projects also, but to this day, McClure added that their vision and ability to create and execute strategies is their greatest attribute. “Oh yes, our fairly unique strength in food and beverage is a big point of difference between most “hotel operators” and us. We have decades of award winning restaurants and catering operations under our belt,” he said.

With this said, the plan is underway which promises to transform Embassy Suites as he said “aesthetically as well as functionally”.

Are you going to redesign the area of the atrium and to what extent? “Well, the design is a work in progress right now. We are looking at all the top new Embassy’s and other contemporary conversions of what we call “GEN 1” Embassy’s for ideas, so there will be changes, but not just for changes sake,” McClure remarked.

Will this renovation be done in stages and how much investment for each one of the stages? “We are studying whether we will do it in stages or at once.  There will certainly be a stage one touching the areas I have mentioned. We are studying every aspect of the property and may have a second phase. The cost of improvements will be in the millions of dollars.”

When do you start the first stage? “We will make changes in 2014, it will likely be early in the year, but there are many elements so I leave the start date open. Business demands will also impact the exact date.”

Currently you operate with about 200 employees, will you be increasing the number of employees after finishing improvements? “Yes. We expect a higher volume and more activity in the food and beverage areas.”

Embassy Suites has attracted many travelers since it first opened, currently they are hosting over 40,000 travelers in McAllen annually.

Who is your target customer? “Well, absolutely the business traveler coming to the Rio Grande Valley and International traveler coming for personal reasons like shopping, medical, banking, etc.”

Why do you feel it is important to transform Embassy Suites now? What is wrong with it? “Well we believe we have been and are McAllen’s finest and most important Hotel for almost thirty years. I hesitate to say anything is wrong, but certainly the areas we will be addressing which I mentioned are high impact areas for guest experience. I also need to add we have that long and strong history in award winning restaurants and we are in the process of bringing recipes and concepts in that will make a big difference for locals, catering events, and of course our overnight guests.”

Is Embassy Suites using a Hilton flag? Will it continue with the same franchise? “Yes we just signed a new five-year agreement with the Hilton brand and our preference at this time is to continue that relationship.”

He also pointed out that the efforts in McAllen to build a new Embassy have pretty much educated everyone on the difficulties of building a hotel for $175,000 a room even in a great market like McAllen.

McClure also pointed out, “It’s hard to impossible to justify it unless a municipality is willing to substantially pay for it. Many if not all the major municipalities from Mission to Harlingen have spoken to us about building a new Embassy or full service hotel, but we haven’t found a combination of appetite and capability on the public side to do what it takes.”

In addition McClure stated that the Embassy Suites owners have been leaders in this community for decades, they don’t ask for anything and are prepared to invest their money in this hotel to continue to provide the region a first class, full service facility. “We certainly have the option to go without a franchise affiliation and we would be very successful I believe as a luxury independent like La Mansion in San Antonio, which I operated for years, but we have been supporters of Hilton and our thinking at this time, is to strengthen that relationship.

He also said that Hilton is the number one hotel group with all its iconic brands like Embassy in the world today and is likely to continue to strengthen that position. “There are many aspects to the benefits, but number one is the ability to deliver volume through its marketing and reservation programs. Of course one pays for those benefits dearly.”

The Embassy Suites Hotel is and has been owned since the later 1980’s by a partnership of four individuals/ families. The majority owners are the Amoroso and Greenstein families from California. Joe Amoroso was a founder of Hyatt Corp in the very beginning working with the Pritzker family to build the first 35 Hyatt Regency’s.

Amoroso is considered an icon in the hospitality industry. According to McClure, the Greenstein’s have partnered with Joe for forty or more years.

McClure said that their purpose is to provide hands on management of hospitality projects and over the years they have managed everything from luxury independent hotels, limited service and particularly full service hotels for all Hilton brands, Starwood/Sheraton/Radisson/ Holiday Inn etc. “We also evolved into developers and owners of hospitality and mixed-use commercial projects. To date, excluding consulting projects, we have 27 projects under our belt. We are proud of the consistent success of those projects and that we have worked with only three equity sources from inception to today.

Embassy Suites has 262 suites soon to be upgraded to provide the most confortable stay for the traveler. The beverage products are being enhanced to satisfy the most demanding taste bud and the menu is being changed by acclaimed and award winning chefs. By the time they are ready to offer it to the public it is going to be, without a doubt, the most exquisite culinary experience in South Texas.

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