Little Rock Eyes International Boost As Peabody Changes to Marriott

by Chuck Bartels, The Associated Press  on Wednesday, May. 1, 2013 11:15 am  

Peabody no more: Davidson Hotels and Resorts of Atlanta will now manage the hotel as a Marriott, which will have a Wednesday ceremony to mark the new name. (Photo by Dustin Nevill)

The Peabody paid rent of $375,000 per year, while the Marriott will pay $85,000 in its first year, with the payments gradually rising to $150,000 in 2019, a sum that will remain for the duration of the lease, according to the agreement with the city. Marriott has a 40-year lease.

The hotel holds a dubious place in history as the site where then-Gov. Bill Clinton allegedly sexually harassed Paula Jones, whose lawsuit when Clinton was president led to revelations about Monica Lewinsky.

The hotel drew four-star ratings in recent years and will become the first full-service Marriott in Arkansas, though there is already a downtown Courtyard by Marriott.


Bruce Skidmore, director of sales and marketing for the Marriott, said the staff has made a number of changes already, putting in place new linens, high-definition televisions, telephones and other items. Room renovations will begin in early 2014, and exterior work will be done through the end of the year.

The restaurants will be rebranded and renovated and the lobby and lounge area will get new touches.

Hall provided a long list of attributes the Marriott will bring, such as its large customer loyalty program, a national sales team that will recruit meetings and conventions, and a national reservation system, none of which the Peabody offered on such a scale.

"I don't know that there are a lot of cons," she said.

As crews outside used heavy equipment to hoist the new Marriott signs Tuesday afternoon, Peabody guests Fred and Margaret Griesbach of Plover, Wis., found one reason to lament the change.

"It's sad to see the ducks go," Fred Griesbach said. "It's part of the history of it."

They took pictures of the ducks in their fountain, enjoying a last splash.

The hotel will move the birds to a farm in Scott, where it keeps its retired ducks.

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