Peabody Hotel Opens in Little Rock

by Arkansas Business staff  on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2002 11:58 am  

The Peabody Hotel in Little Rock marked its grand opening Thursday as the $33 million renovation of the former Excelsior Hotel nears completion.

Gov. Mike Huckabee was among city and state officials who attended Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 Statehouse Plaza.

The grand opening marked the end of a long, often bumpy journey by the city and hotel to bring the Peabody to Little Rock. During the mid- to late-1990s, the Excelsior saw revenue drop about 20 percent.

The city and hotels first announced the luxury hotel's decision to buy 51 percent of the Excelsior from Green Stamp America Inc., renovate the hotel and call it the Peabody Little Rock in 1999.

As part of the renovation, the Peabody replaced marble floors, added new carpet, enclosed the plaza, built a new car port and refurbished every guest and public space.

"Everything is being redone," Peabody Hotel Group of Memphis' Vice President and General Manager Timothy Gonser told Arkansas Business in August. "We're targeting this to be a Mobil Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond hotel."

The Peabody Hotel Group is a subsidiary of Belz Enterprises Inc. of Memphis, a large real estate investment corporation that handles industrial, retail, office, residential, hotel and land developments. Two other Peabody hotels operate in Memphis and Orlando, Fla.

The hotels are famous for their marching ducks, which reside on the roof of the hotel and are escorted down the elevator and into the fountain in the lobby of the hotel by a "duck master" twice a day.

The Excelsior was built by Doyle Rogers for $20 million in 1982. He sold the hotel to Green Stamp America in 1989 for the reported price of $24 million.



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