Update on Waterloo Hotel/Convention Center Renovations - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Update on Waterloo Hotel/Convention Center Renovations

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With the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center and Ramada Hotel in dire need of repairs and updates, new owner Leslie Edwin of Leslie Hospitality has a long road ahead of him.  But plans are underway, and Leslie says sales are already up from years past.

"The businesses are responding. We are getting more bookings. We are getting more calls. Our salespeople, and we have already increased staff at the hotel, are struggling to keep up with the volume of calls," said Leslie.

During Waterloo City Council's work session Monday, Leslie presented a big change for the hotel that he says will only increase sales.

Initially, the Ramada was slated to become an RL Hotel under the national Red Lion brand.  Red Lion even wrote a recommendation to help Leslie secure the Waterloo purchase.  But Leslie says the Ramada will now be a Wyndham property with a custom name, Hotel 4th.

"The international exposure from one standpoint, and coupled with being the number one national corporate travel program, it just makes sense. It makes sense more than anything," said Leslie.

Leslie may be looking for international clients, but he is keeping the work local.

Waterloo's Bertch Cabinets is just one of several area companies involved in the renovation. Bertch will be building much of the furniture for the hotel rooms.

As for the divided city council that led Leslie to hold a public hearing on his finances back in August, Leslie says it is water under the bridge.

"In my opinion, I think we have moved past it. We've gotten past the issues. I think everyone has a clear understanding that we are on the same team with the same goals," said Leslie.

The renovation will begin on the hotel as early as next month. Renovations to the convention center will move slower, as Leslie works around events that were already booked in the center.

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