Fairlawn Hotel Owner Proposes Rebranded Holiday Inn Express

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New Holiday Inns Express in Fairlawn has come full circle.

After more than 60 years on West Market Street in the heart of suburban northwest Akron, the former Hilton DoubleTree reopened under a new name in December after a year-long $2 million renovation.

It’s a bet in a competitive market, said Rennick Andreoli, president of RDA Hotel Management Co., which manages the company. The company also operates the nearby Hilton Akron-Fairlawn, Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls, St. Paul Hotel in Wooster, and Beau’s Grill restaurants at the Fairlawn Hilton and Cuyahoga Falls Sheraton.

The exterior of the Holiday Inn Express on W. Market Street in Fairlawn.

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“This hotel was originally built by the Gallucci family. It was one of the first Holiday Inns in the country,” said Andreoli, who purchased the building in 1990 with lifelong friend and business partner Steve Comunale, CEO of SA Comunale, a national company based in Akron specializing in the installation of sprinklers and fire alarms.

Andreoli said one of the main reasons for the rebranding had to do with the food: Customers would prefer a free breakfast over chocolate chip cookies, a DoubleTree feature.

He said DoubleTree does not allow its operators to offer free breakfast.

“We ran it successfully for about six years and then a plethora of new hotels were built and many of those brands offered free breakfast. So believe it or not, as minor as it may be, it’s such a perceived value to our guests that we couldn’t compete with the Residence Inn, the Fairfield Inn,” he said. “That’s why we decided to consider changing the flag here .”

The breakfast bar in the new Holiday Inn Express on W. Market Street in Fairlawn.

It’s a big investment to give away breakfast – for free.

“But in the end it will work,” he added. “And since it’s the newest renovated hotel in the area, it will be a hit.”

Change brand

After buying the old Holiday Inn and operating it as a Days Inn for seven years, Andreoli said he and Communale decided to rebuild the building from the ground up.

The new property reopened in 1998 as Four Points by Sheraton.

“We needed the overflow for large conventions and large corporate groups that didn’t want to cross the aisle and come here,” he said. “These people weren’t comfortable coming here to the Days Inn. There were exterior hallways outside. It was a very old facility, so we couldn’t swap these guests.”

The original Holiday Inn on W. Market Street in Fairlawn, shortly after it opened in 1960.

But after 12 years, the Four Points business has not succeeded.

“It languished and didn’t perform very well. It was about 50% occupancy. It was a brand that wasn’t well recognized…people didn’t know what it was,” said Andreoli.

They converted it to Hilton DoubleTree around 2010.

He said that before breakfast became an issue, the Hilton next door and the old DoubleTree complemented each other.

The dining room and breakfast bar at the Holiday Inn Express on W. Market Street in Fairlawn.

“This hotel was working extremely well. Usually Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday we were fully booked,” he said.

Seasonal destination

Andreoli’s company has operated around 30 hotels over the years, up to 12 at a time.

He said the renovation and return to the Holiday Inn brand had been planned for three years, with the coronavirus pandemic causing a significant delay in plans.

The renovation involved new furniture, wallpaper and carpeting for 88 rooms, as well as the construction of a new facade, lobby, breakfast room and improvements to the sports center and the swimming pool.

Renovations have also been made to the conference center, a separate operation from the hotel, as the Holiday Inn Express brand does not typically offer this option. Similarly, Bricco West, also on the same property, is a separate tenant-run operation.

In its early days, the Holiday Inn was itself a destination.

Rennick Andreoli, president of RDA Hotel Management Co. He bought the property in 1990 with his business partner Steve Comunale.

“As the Holiday Inn, they had a nightclub here, within the Holiday Inn. That was 40 years ago. It was called the Loose Caboose. It was the hottest place in the city. There was a lot of slack – it was the gathering place,” Andreoli said with a laugh.

Lodging business in Northeastern Ohio slows down when the weather turns cold these days, with January, February, and March being particularly lean.

“During the winter months it gets a little lean. It’s very seasonal…Akron is not a mecca for travel. People are going the other way, but believe it or not, when we let’s go into spring, summer and autumn, you’d be amazed.”

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Area attractions include concerts at the Blossom Music Center, the annual All-American Soap Box derby, Cuyahoga Valley State Park, and business conferences that fill the halls on weekdays.

“Some of the bigger events are starting to come back,” Andreoli said. “Next door at the Hilton we have 25 weddings. We’re starting to see traffic picking up, with COVID in the rearview mirror. We’re not quite there yet. We need business travel to come back A bit stronger.”

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Andreoli said he expects the rebranding to improve business as well.

“Repositioning the hotel, going in a completely different direction with a different brand that offers different amenities like the DoubleTree did,” he said, adding that they were looking for a brand that would attract more weekend renters. -end. “There is a calculated risk in this. We made a big investment and hopefully we took the risk, and hopefully we will be rewarded. Time will tell.”

Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @MarottaEric.


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