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Lafayette manager says business is looking up

April 6, 2011
By Wayne Towner , The Marietta Times

The past year saw some growth and improvements for the Lafayette Hotel in downtown Marietta.

General manager Sheila Rhodes said 2010 was a better year for the historic hotel over 2009, with more people visiting the Riverview Lounge and the Gun Room Restaurant and more room sales.

The Lafayette saw a two percent increase in food service usage and about six percent more in room sales, Rhodes said.

The hotel is located at 101 Front St., next to the Ohio River Levee and the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers. It has 77 guest rooms, a lounge, a restaurant and a ballroom.

The room sales included increases in both leisure travelers and business travelers, although the leisure traffic has remained the higher of the two in recent years, Rhodes said. In the last year, the Lafayette saw a lot more overnight stays from out-of-town guests attending weddings in the area, she added.

"It's good to see some of the people that are hopefully out and about and doing their thing again, we're seeing more people travel," she said.

Fact Box

At a glance

About the Lafayette Hotel

Location: 101 Front St., Marietta

Guest Rooms: 77

Also offers: A lounge, restaurant, ballroom and business center

General manager: Sheila Rhodes

On the Web:

At the end of 2008, the Lafayette's owners decided to take back control of the hotel's restaurant and food services programs after leasing those out to different companies over the previous six years. The goal of the change was to allow the hotel to have better control and communication over the food services and be more efficient.

Rhodes said the decision has remained a positive one for the Lafayette. A new chief, Josh Hall, was hired in 2010 and he has continued to make changes and improvements to the menus of the Riverview Lounge and the Gun Room Restaurant. Looking ahead at 2011, the Lafayette will be studying the idea of offering some limited outside catering services, she said.

The past year also some physical changes and renovations to the lounge and dining room areas, including creating a small stage and dance floor in the restaurant to make it usable for more types of activities, Rhodes said. At the start of this year, she moved the weekly winter comedy club program from the lounge to the restaurant and the increased space generated increased interest, she said.

The Lafayette has continued looking at ways to draw local people in more with different activities, Rhodes said. Each year, the hotel holds a couple of murder-mystery packages for guests and the last two years have included ghost-hunting tours during the Halloween season.

Rhodes is also looking at ways to incorporate the restaurant improvements into more activities like having a dinner and a show or a dinner and music. This year, she is in the process of bringing back a former feature at the Lafayette, a monthly wine dinner.

In 2006, the Lafayette completed work on putting in a business center in the hotel, with computers, copiers, fax machines and equipment to serve business customers. The hotel now has wireless Internet access throughout the facility and in all of the guest rooms.

Rhodes said the business center has remained very popular since it was created several years ago. It is not only popular with business travelers, but also with leisure guests who are also more and more technologically connected.

"It's definitely been a plus," she said.

The Lafayette continues to work with the Marietta community in a variety of ways, by helping with big events like music festivals, the Riverfront Roar powerboat racing and the annual Ohio River Sternwheel Festival.

"Everybody in the community says the Lafayette used to be the main focus of the downtown area and I just really want try to strive to meet those expectations again," Rhodes said.



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