By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Business and city leaders gathered Wednesday at the University North Park, the site of the future home of a Holiday Inn Express.
“I’m excited,” Ward 8 City Council member Chad Williams said. “This may be the center of Ward 8. It’s exciting to see the opportunities here.”
Those opportunities include hosting conventions and
conferences that will bring visitors and their money into Norman.
“We’re already talking to people about this space,” said Stephen Koranda, Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.
Prominent at the hotel groundbreaking was neighbor hotelier Embassy Suites General Manager Michael Vance and his sales team. Vance and his team view the Holiday Inn as a future partner rather than a competitor.
As the Embassy Suites Norman Hotel and Conference Center has continued to experience success at drawing major events to Norman, it has been limited by space. Having overflow rooms next door is a big boon for both hotels and a good omen for the future of tourism in Norman.
“We have a lot of passion as it relates to Norman,” said Premier Hospitality Management CEO Raj Patel, whose company is building the Holiday Inn. “This is not just another hotel for us.”
Patel fell in love with Norman during his years attending the University of Oklahoma.
“Norman is truly a second home to us, and that’s why we continue our investment in this town,” said Patel, a Durant native.
Patel said he is looking forward to a prosperous partnership with the neighboring Embassy Suites.
Don Wood, Norman Economic Development Coalition executive director, commended Patel on the quality of his establishments.
“He operates a really, really good hotel,” Wood said. “This is another anchor in the development here. Thank you for choosing Norman.”
This is Premier Hospitality’s 20th hotel.
Chamber of Commerce Board President Andy Sherrer said the coming hotel and its potential impact for visitors to Norman perfectly symbolizes the Chamber’s motto this year: “We’re Norman, we’re open for business.”
“Those of you who are visiting today, we want you to come back, and we want you to stay,” Sherrer said.
Tourism is the third largest industry in the state, Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said in her address at the groundbreaking. Rosenthal said the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau is celebrating National Tourism week and the coming hotel will open up more rooms for conference space. Chamber of Commerce President John Woods said that’s key when people are attending a two- or three-day conference. They want to be close to the presenting hotel. Having the Holiday Inn located next to the Embassy Suites serves both venues well.
Rosenthal said the new hotel would create “added value” to Norman as a destination.
“It’s not just the six weekends in the fall when everyone shows up for the football games,” Rosenthal said. “It’s year-round.”
For Patel, the premier location in the upscale University North Park is a business venture worth taking. He said he believes in the future of Norman as a destination.
“Thank you for your very warm welcome,” Patel said. “We look forward to having a very good hotel. here.”