Renovation of former condo-hotel, now Residence Inn nears completion

ORLANDO – Central Florida builder D&D Construction Services will soon complete a rare feat in the construction business. Not only are they in the midst of remodeling an existing condo/hotel, or “condotel,” into a luxurious all-suite Residence Inn by Marriott to be oceanfront, they’re completing the extensive three and a half million dollar renovations while the property remains open to guests.

The seven-year-old oceanfront property in Pompano Beach, Fla., formerly known as the Ocean Sands Resort and Spa, was purchased by Mercury Investment, Inc. in 2005, but entered a joint venture with Concord Hospitality and the Aztec Group in Aug 2009 to convert the property into a Marriott. Concord Hospitality will manage the property. RNGA Architecture, Inc. and Jacki Arena Interiors, both of South Florida, lead the design team. The project is on track for completion this February.

The newly renovated and rebranded, 10-story, 88-suite Residence Inn enjoys an oceanfront location, allowing for one and two-bedroom ocean view suites, ranging from 556 to 918 square feet, each outfitted with a full kitchen and a washer and dryer. Other changes to the guest suites include new granite, cabinets, accessories, paint and other cosmetic touches. The totally redecorated guest suites will feature new furniture packages, new large flat screen televisions and multiple other additions.

To create a luxurious new venue for destination weddings, as well as for meetings and special events, D&D Construction Services will complete a total demolition and rebuild of the hotel’s first floor, adding a front desk and lobby area with restrooms and a business center. The builder moved the existing restaurant from the third floor to the first, and repurposed two existing guest suites to create a luxurious oceanfront restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor seating offering spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The existing spa and salon will remain in place.

The rebranding will allow the owners to draw on the trusted reputation of the Marriott brand and will provide a more extensive platform for marketing the luxurious oceanfront property. The Ocean Sands’ oversized rooms were also an ideal fit for the all-suite Residence Inn brand. While such an extensive renovation of a seven-year-old property may not have been required for a rebranding, the suite upgrades and reconfigured restaurant and bar space raise the caliber of the property to exceed the stringent brand standards to capture the uniqueness of the resort with its ocean setting and full service spa.

While many may question the wisdom of such an extensive renovation in a tough economy, Mercury Investment chose to move forward with the rebrand and remodel to position themselves for the economic rebound. “We'll be positioned when the market turns, and we'll be ready to welcome all of the people coming to Florida. Now is the time,” said Karen Stelmak, Vice President of Asset Management, Mercury Investment. “We all recognize the strength of this project — Mercury Investment, Inc., Concord Hospitality and D&D Construction Services.”

The renovation also serves to stimulate the local economy. “In South Florida, there are so many projects that are stalled and/or not moving,” added Stelmak. “We are still building, providing jobs for many who wouldn’t otherwise be employed. During a recession, we can not only hire the best talent, but also purchase property, supplies and materials at lower prices.”

Despite the stall in the building industry, D&D Construction Services has remained busy, due the company’s strong professional reputation and their ability to deliver on time and on budget. This project presented a new and welcome challenge, however.

“Completing such an extensive renovation on a property inhabited by guests was a true exercise in communication and partnership,” said Darand Williams, Vice President, D&D Construction Services. “Working closely with hotel management, we patterned our work hours and our demolition and construction schedule around non-peak visitation times and around sleep and recreation patterns of the guests, in order to impact their stay as little as possible. Rather than being an impediment, the presence of guests has been an inspiration and a constant reminder of why we give 110 percent to every job. Ultimately, this is their hotel.”

According to Stelmak, the family-owned Orlando builder definitely rose to the challenge. “D&D Construction Services has been outstanding to work with. They continue to go out of their way to ensure a wonderful stay without impeding the guest experience,” she said. “Throughout the project, our guests’ perceived value of their vacation has not been negatively impacted at all.”

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