SOUTH PORTLAND —The Wyndham Hotel, like the similarly cylindrical oil tank-murals off Interstate 295, is a key gateway marker in this city. It’s one of the sights on the landscape that let’s you know you’re in South Portland.
And like the oil tanks, it’s getting a serious facelift. Renovations worth $3.7 million are underway in anticipation of a brand transition at the Wyndham, which will open as a DoubleTree by Hilton by the end of the month.
The hotel’s owner, Joe VanWhy, said he’s making the switch to DoubleTree because rewards offered by Hilton are more appealing to corporate travelers, who make up the bulk of his clientele.
“Wyndham is a good company, and they did well by us through the recession,” VanWhy said. “But the Hilton chain is a larger, world-known product …. and the HiltonHonors program has more membership than the Wyndham rewards program does.”
In the lead-up to the transition, the hotel’s exterior has been renovated to add color and texture to the once all-glass facade. VanWhy said about one-third of the windows had been removed.
That may sound like a lot, but not considering that before the renovation, the entire exterior had been windows.
“We still have more window-space in our hotel than you’ll get in any other room in Portland,” he said.
The pool also has been redesigned, as has the hotel’s restaurant, The Blue Wave Grill.
Each of the hotel’s 219 rooms is getting new amenities including 37-inch high-definition TVs and printing services, new furniture, decor, window treatments and heating and cooling systems.
The hotel’s fitness center is also being outfitted with new top-of-the-line gym equipment from Precore, VanWhy said.
The switch to the larger brand name has already had a positive impact on the South Portland hotel. Although he declined to give firm numbers, reservations through Hilton’s e-booking system are much higher than they were under Wyndham last year.
None of the hotel’s 95 employees will lose their jobs because of the transition, a hotel spokeswoman said. Instead, they’ll undergo DoubleTree hospitality training, including procedure for the hotel’s famous confection, the warm chocolate-chip cookies baked on-site and handed out to every visitor.
VanWhy’s company, InnDeavor Development Corporation, owns and operates several properties in Florida, but the new DoubleTree is the only hotel it currently holds in Maine. VanWhy previously owned the Eastland Park Hotel in Portland and the Hampton Inn in Saco.
He also developed land near his South Portland hotel for Chipotle Grill and Cracker Barrel, each of which hold 30-year leases from VanWhy.
This illustration shows the new exterior of the Wyndham Portland Airport Hotel, which will be rebranded as a DoubleTree by Hilton by the end of this month. The hotel’s all-glass facade has been renovated to include new colors and texture.