CEDAR RAPIDS — The former Clarion Hotel has finished its remodel of its lobby and meeting areas this year.
General Manager Jackie Oliver said the Ramada, which took over the site at 525 33rd Ave. SW earlier this year, recently finished remodeling its meeting rooms and the lobby, complete with new crystal chandeliers, and overhauled its adjacent restaurant under the new name he Hideout Bistro and Grill, now with a new executive chef.
The hotel also added new mattresses and boxsprings to half the rooms so far, with plans to add new beds to every room by the end of spring 2019.
The hotel will start to renovate guest rooms in 2019. The hotel management is in early discussions for other additions to the building.
Oliver estimated the renovations will cost more than $4 million overall.
The remodel is part of a “property improvement plan” ordered by Wyndham, the owner of the Ramada Hotels brand name, after the hotel came under financial troubles.
The U.S. Department of Labor began to investigate the former Clarion Hotel last November after employees said they weren’t receiving paychecks, and some started a toy drive and online fundraising page to help buy Christmas gifts for their children.
The investigation forced the former owners to pay $129,073 in back wages.
Earlier this July, an Iowa District Court judge ordered the former owners, Hassan Imtiaz Hussain and his father, Imtiaz Hussain, to pay $2.18 million to cover loans and interest to their silent partner, Kuwaiti hotelier Ashok Kalra, and transfer ownership of the hotel to him.
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Oliver said the reinvestment into the building helped the hotel get back on its feet after the ownership shuffle.
She declined to give specific numbers, but said the hotel is selling out of rooms on some nights, and bookings for meeting spaces are rising.
“Considering what happened, after the Clarion flag was lost last November, business pretty much dropped off totally, so anything was an improvement,” she said.
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