OWENSBORO, Ky. (6/17/13) – A roughly six-year effort to renovate and redesign a hotel at the edge of Owensboro’s city limits on divided Hwy. U.S. 60 has come a long way but isn’t over, Ramada Manager Gary Dennis told SurfKY News this spring.

“They did a pretty thorough renovation,” Dennis said of hotel owners Terry and Linda Dukes. “They painted and redesigned the lobby. They turned the lobby into a place where guests could sit – comfortable reading areas – a place people could enjoy,” he said.

In addition to the redesigning the lobby to make it more appealing for guests to use, Dennis said the hotel has undergone other updates, such as glass windows in the ceiling, new bedding and mattresses in many if not all of its more than 140 rooms, and the addition of a microwave and refrigerator in every room in the hotel.

“We do that to accommodate the long-term traveling professional,” he said.

Dennis joined the hotel as its manager in November 2010, and made some changes in the facility as well. For example, Dennis oversaw the introduction of a “Ramada Mart” convenience store where people could purchase over-the-counter medical supplies, personal hygiene items, and food.

“One of my first tasks was to put that in,” he said. “The hotel kept losing quality assurance points (for not having it)."

The convenience store isn't the only change made to the hotel to appeal to traveling professionals. The facility also now includes four rooms Dennis described as "theme suites" that were each designed with a unique concept in mind.

"They each have high-end artwork," he said. "It's the stuff you'd find in a home."

Perhaps Dennis’ most important task in helping attract more guests to the hotel was to develop an overall “marketing and networking strategy to change the perception of the hotel.” Some of the methods he employed in the effort included joining the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, working with local agencies to encourage them to use the hotel, and to help educate such groups – as well as the general public – about the renovation work that had gone into the facility.

Dennis said he has invited various non-profit groups to use the hotel’s meeting room for some of their functions. Among these is the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life chapter, a group Dennis said he has a connection with because his family has had a history with cancer.

“It really is exciting to me when I walk out and see them doing their planning,” Dennis said of the Relay chapter.

The Ramada is also a regular host of a monthly “Make a Business Connection” for the Chamber of Commerce. Those attending have an opportunity to talk about their business with others in the Chamber. It’s something the Ramada had offered in the past, and this month will mark the third consecutive month for the event since relaunching the lunch-time program.

Looking forward to the opening of the new Owensboro Convention Center in January 2014, Dennis said it’s too early to say what impact that will have on the use of the hotel but that he has “developed a pretty good working relationship with the Convention Center team.”

He said his focus for the hotel is just as much on creating new programs the hotel can sponsor and support as it is the opportunity changes in downtown are sure to bring to the hotel industry.

“We participated in a bridal expo in February, and I’m looking forward to doing more with that,” he said. “I’d like to have an art show and other creative ways to use the lobby. We’re trying to figure out creative things we’ve never done before. We want to make the hotel available for people to use.”

Dennis Beard
SurfKY News
Photos provided by Dennis Beard

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