Unfinished hotel accepting bookings

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

It’ll be another 10 months before the new $22 million Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Conference Center – now a mere steel skeleton overlooking the Nansemond River – is ready to open.

But in recent months, several businesses, organizations and regional associations have contacted the city about booking the 150-room hotel and adjacent 15,000-square-foot conference center, said Jennifer D’Alessandro, director of sales.

Email newsletter signup

D’Alessandro joined Noble Investment Group, the Atlanta-based company building and operating the hotel, six weeks ago to begin marketing the facility. She will be setting up a temporary office in the Suffolk Visitor Center within the next two weeks.

&uot;We don’t have any contracts lined up yet,&uot; she said. &uot;We’ve already requests for information from some pretty diverse groups within the community.&uot;

Since she’s been on the job, D’Alessandro said, she has talked with several business owners interested in the hotel for visiting clients and VIPs. She has also had calls from people and organizations interested in booking the site for weddings, conferences, family reunions, and the like.

D’Alessandro came on the job none too soon, said Lynette Brugeman, the city’s tourism director.

&uot;We’ve been getting calls since before the hotel broke ground,&uot; she said. &uot;At that time, we weren’t accepting any bookings.

&uot;Now we are. All leads are being referred to Jennifer.&uot;

It’s not rare for groups, particularly professional associations, to book sites for events in advance, D’Alessandro said.

&uot;Usually 12 to 24 months in advance,&uot; she said. &uot;But I’ve seen a hotel/convention center be booked up to 12 years in advance.&uot;

Not having a finished product to show prospective clients makes marketing a little more challenging, D’Alessandro said. She is in the process of creating &uot;user-friendly&uot; promotional materials featuring renderings of the hotel, room dimensions and amenities that guests will find in the hotel and conference center.

For more information, call D’Alessandro at 560-3064.