Exceeding expectations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Peter Yeung, manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Suffolk, was the featured speaker at Wednesday’s meeting of the Downtown Business Association.

Yeung’s an amiable fella and full of energy. I had the pleasure of playing golf with him a couple weeks back in a tournament and during those rare moments when he wasn’t on the cell phone putting out fires, enjoyed talking with him.

He told the group yesterday that the hotel exceeded all budgeted revenue expectations in 2005 and “we went out of the shoot in 2006 full force.”

He explained that Suffolk’s Hilton Garden Inn is far superior to the regular “brand” in terms of services offered and physical amenities. This is thanks, of course, to the investment by the city of Suffolk.

Interestingly, catering has been a big source of revenue for the Hilton because of all the events the hotel has been hosting. He said food service is typically seen as merely a guest service but it’s been a big revenue boost here.

He fielded only one question regarding the city “receiving pay back for its investment” and handled it pretty well. He said the pay back to Suffolk is all the out-of-town visitors the Hilton brings here, along with their money.

The Hilton and/or Constance Wharf Park behind it, has been hosting the Mini-Jazz Fest, and the TGIF concert series sponsored by Parks and Rec. (and the Suffolk News-Herald which donated $5,000 in advertising, as well as some other local businesses) kicks off June 9. He noted there will be TGIF specials at the hotel in conjunction with the concerts.

On a sad note, Yeung told us while golfing that the Hilton was losing its talented chef, Corey Duncan, who will be plying his trade at George’s Steak House (And I have not called back to confirm that. I don’t know whether Duncan has already departed or changed his mind or what), a loss for the Hilton, but a big coup for George’s, I suppose. I’m not too big on eating out, but Duncan made this fried cornbread thing that knocked my socks off (As Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester put it on an old episode of MASH, “If ours was a truly civilized nation, you, sir, would be king.”)

Regardless of your feelings about how the Hilton came to be, it’s a wonderful facility and its here. You should avail yourself to what it has to offer. And you may be able to ride the trolley there soon.