$16M Renovation Planned For Downtown Little Rock Marriott

Downtown's Little Rock Marriott will be undergoing a $16 million renovation, hotel officials announced Friday.

The renovation will include all 418 guest rooms and all public meeting and dining spaces and is scheduled for completion in late summer. 

“Today marks the real guts and glory of the renovation," Bill Fontes, the hotel's general manager, told a group of reporters Friday. "We’ve been in minor construction — some wall vinyl, some carpet, some of the guest room amenities — but as of yesterday, the jackhammers are going as we speak.”

Renovations on the guest rooms started Feb. 7 and are scheduled to run through July 27. The guest room renovations are working in rotations of two floors at a time, which averages to about 50 rooms out at any time. 

Fontes said work on the 18th floor rooms was complete, and work on the 17th floor was nearing completion.

Starting April 1, the hotel will begin renovations to its conference centers and ballrooms. The work is supposed to continue into June.

The hotel will remain open throughout the process with progress updates available at Facebook.com/LittleRockMarriott.

"Although we've already made some significant progress in converting to the Marriott Hotels flag, the real transformation won't be realized until this last and final phase of renovation occurs," Fontes said in a hotel news release. "We believe it will better position our hotel to meet the needs and demands of both business and leisure travelers seeking upscale accommodations in the area." 

The hotel previously was the Peabody Little Rock and was rebranded the Little Rock Marriott in May after Fairwood Capital LLC of Memphis bought the lease from the Peabody Hotel Group.

The Little Rock Marriott, which has 40,000 SF of its own meeting and ballroom space and is run by Davidson Hotels & Resorts, is linked to the 200,000-SF Statehouse Convention Center, which is operated by the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The hotel recently added 42-inch flat screen televisions and coffee makers in all guest rooms and has finished a complete renovation of its fitness center. It also opened The Café, which serves Starbucks products. 

As part of the renovation, the hotel will add a lounge located on the lobby level in the former Velvet Humidor Cigar Lounge. It will be open to guests reserving Marriott's Club Level rooms along with Platinum and Gold Marriott Rewards guests.

Fontes said a rebranding of the concept is still in the works, but more information should be available this summer.

"We’re excited about the opportunity to put a new lounge and restaurant in that space,” he said.

The hotel will also remodel the guest registration and lobby seating area. The lobby bar will become the Marriott Greatroom, which will feature a media wall with four 80-inch televisions.

With the start of work on the lobby area Monday came the removal of the duck pond.

"If you’re looking for any sign of the [Peabody] ducks, go to the second floor because their home is still there," Fontes said. "It will soon be an heirloom tomato garden.”

The hotel also is implementing a new energy-savings program with energy-efficient CFL light bulbs and digital thermostats containing sensors that can detect when the room is occupied, helping control temperatures.

Mayor Mark Stodola was on hand Friday for the announcement and expressed his excitement for the project.

“It spells only good things for [Little Rock]," he said. "And, of course, $16 million worth of construction is something that gets turned around five or six times in the community.”

The following is a tentative schedule for the renovations:

•Guest room renovations (Feb. 7 - July 27) Two floors at a time, renovations will be completed to the Marriott's guest rooms. Renovations to the hotel's suites will be determined at a later date due to the unique nature and redesign of premium suites on the 19th floor.

•Meeting and Event Spaces (April 1 - June 15)
-Conference Center Level 1 (April 1 - April 15) This renovation will include the Riverview, Ouachita and Neosho rooms.

-Conference Center Level 2 (April 15 - April 30) This renovaiton will include Harris Brake, Conway, White Oak, Chicot and Grampas rooms.

-Ballroom Level (May 9 - June 1) This renovation entails the Grand Ballroom, Marion, Peck, Lafeyette, Manning and Hoffman rooms.

-Lobby Level Event Space & Pinnacle Room (June 1 - June 15) This renovation encompasses the Arkansas Ballroom and the East Concourse, in addition to the Petit Jean and Pinnacle rooms.

•Lobby, Lobby Bar and Velvet Humidor

-Lobby (March 10 - May 8) During this renovation, the lobby will be blocked off from the top of the Statehouse stairs to the East Concourse in order to convert the Lobby Bar into the Great Room concept. The foyer immediately above the restaurant will serve as an interim lobby. The East Concourse will be accessible by going up to the B Level and down the escalator. The Café, serving Starbucks products, will be open during this renovation. Since the Lobby Bar will be closed, the bar will be set up in the restaurant's private dining room area.

-Velvet Humidor (March 15 - May 1) This space will be for guests reserving Club Level rooms. Platinum and Gold Marriott Rewards guests will also be able to enjoy the space, which will be open Sunday evening through Friday morning. 

•Pancetta Regional Kitchen & Wine Bar (June 1 - August) This renovation will reinvent the restaurant with a new concept. Restaurant service will be provided during this time at a location still to be announced.

•Elevator Lobby & Fountain Area (May 8 - June 1) This renovation will tend to the elevator lobby and fountain area.