New hotel bookings coming in

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

The long-awaited public debut of the $22 million Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Conference Center is still more than a month away.

But the waterfront hotel, slated to open on March 1, is already being inundated with reservations for upcoming months, said Keith Alexander, the hotel’s general manager.

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So far, the hotel has received 2,000 reservations

throughout the remainder of the year, bringing in nearly $300,000 in revenue, said Alexander.

Marketing efforts for the 14,000-square-foot

conference center are proving equally successful. To date, more than 20 events – ranging from weddings and family reunions to sales and marketing conferences – have been scheduled at the conference center, Alexander said.

The hotel’s first major conference comes April 7-8, when approximately 200 members of the Virginia Economic Developers Association will descend upon Suffolk for the organization’s annual spring conference.

Other major bookings in the works include Temple Beth El, which is responsible for 1,100 reservations

for participants attending three conferences over the coming year. The Emergency Physicians of Tidewater, which is holding a three-day training conference at the hotel in May.

More than 100 U.S. military officials participating in training exercises at northern Suffolk’s U.S. Joint Forces Command have reserved rooms in May and again in July.

Promoting a facility still under construction has at times been somewhat challenging for hotel officials, Alexander said, however, local marketing efforts have helped boost reservations.

&uot;The city has done a great job marketing the facility to meeting planners and tourism officials throughout the state of Virginia,&uot; he said.

Also, Alexander said, officials have heavily promoted the hotel and convention facility through an aggressive marketing blitz in the Washington and Richmond markets.

Alexander is confident Suffolk will find the Hilton and conference center an asset to the community.

&uot;Our goal is to provide a facility that Suffolk has not had in the past,&uot; he said. &uot;As the city of Suffolk grows, so will the hotel.&uot;