published on April 14, 2016 - 12:05 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
The longtime Holiday Inn Airport hotel across from Fresno Yosemite International Airport became a Ramada hotel in January with the purchase by a private equity group operating under the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts umbrella.

The Ramada name is temporary, though, as the hotel ownership is about to execute a $2.5 million makeover that will convert the facility to Fresno’s first Wyndham Garden Hotel on Sept. 1, said General Manager Adrian Valencia.

Valencia said the world of hospitality is ever shifting, and it’s necessary to update guest amenities to keep with the times. For instance, Millennials appreciate a cell phone charging station on a bedside table with easy access, as opposed to being on your hands and knees hunting for a power outlet on the wall.

“The industry is changing all the time,” Valencia said.

For the Ramada, change has already started, first with updates of all public spaces including the lobby, restaurant, lounge and terraces. A makeover of all 210 guest rooms is also planned, with fresh carpet, vinyl and drapes. About 65 people work at the hotel, and to show that guest service is a No. 1 priority for Wyndham, new positions — including chief engineering and food and beverage director — have been added.

Leslie Beninga, Ramada’s director of sales since 2014, said a renovation is overdue. The hotel was built in 1975, and aspects such as the carpets and countertops show their age. The Ramada’s unique features includes Fresno’s largest indoor pool area with a tiki bar that used to be a favorite local haunt in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Valencia plans to bring back those days with public entertainment, including live music. They are looking to cater to the public as well as hospitality industry workers from nearby hotels. And the airport is just a stone’s throw away.

Beninga said the transition has led to some previous customers from as long as 15 years ago coming back to do business with the hotel. The last time the hotel was renovated was 1999, so at the same time, some longtime customers who may have tired of the old look are fired up about the change.

The hotel has traditionally attracted some high-profile travel groups, including opponents of the Fresno State Bulldogs football team and most recently, the Liga MX soccer club León, which played an exhibition game at Chukchansi Park.

The soon-to-be Wyndham Garden will also host the 2016 Pink Heals, Inc. tour April 21-26. The nonprofit travels the country with a fleet of pink fire trucks, raising awareness and money to help people battle cancer. The money raised by Pink Heals stays local.

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