Commercial Progress Report

Hilton Becomes Doubletree

by Lisa Hanchey

From left, James Lawrence, Jimmy Thackston and Bill Schwanz
Photo by Robin May

Everything old is new again at Pinhook Road property.

After 31 years, the former Hilton Lafayette has re-branded itself as DoubleTree by Hilton Lafayette. Gone are the dark-paneled walls, antiquated interior and aged restaurant and beverage outlets. Now, the hotel, located at 1521 West Pinhook Road, has undergone a multimillion dollar transformation, offering an open, inviting lobby area, new lobby bar and completely renovated meeting rooms from carpet to ceiling.

Last year, New York-based Garrison Wright Prop Co JV LLC purchased the property, which is managed by Memphis-based Hospitality Management Advisors, and the new investors decided the DoubleTree by Hilton brand would be a better bet fit for the Hub City.

“We fit more into the DoubleTree portfolio of what they want a DoubleTree to be,” says Director of Sales Jennifer Korner. “DoubleTree is a very fun brand, and it’s very community-oriented, which is what fits right into the Lafayette way of life.”

If you haven’t seen the DoubleTree by Hilton lately, you are in for a surprise. Walls in the lobby area were knocked down, resulting in a bright, open area expanding from the entryway to the restaurant. Behind the front desk is a stunning glass sculpture of an oak tree branch draped with wire “Spanish moss” created by Dallas-based artist David Gappa. Besides the hotel’s fresh new look, guests will now be welcomed with another treat at check-in — DoubleTree’s signature warm chocolate chip cookies. “It’s all about the cookie,” Korner says with a laugh.

New to the facility is a lobby bar serving wines by the glass, drink specialties, small plates, burgers and sandwiches. The former Maximillian’s nightclub, redubbed as Club 337 (for the area code), has been totally revamped with new lighting, sound equipment, cypress wood panels, six flat screen TVs and two pool tables. Open Wednesday through Saturday nights, Club 337 features Karaoke Wednesday, Ladies’ Night on Thursday and the always-popular Latin Night on Saturday.

The new restaurant, SoLA (South Louisiana), features South Louisiana specialties including Shrimp & Grits, Shrimp Rockefeller Soup and Crawfish Wontons. Helmed by Executive Chef Bill Schwanz, SoLA also offers a breakfast buffet and lunchtime soup and salad bar along with an á la carte menu. A private dining room seating up to 35 is also available. James Lawrence serves as food and beverage director.

All meeting rooms were renovated with new carpet, paint, vinyl and lighting, and guest rooms were upgraded with deluxe bedding, carpet, paint, draperies and chairs. Outside, the pool overlooking the Vermilion River was resurfaced, with new decking and much more pool furniture added. The existing gazebo/pool bar was torn down, and in the fall, additional modernizations will take place in this area. “Everything in the hotel has been touched,” Korner says.

“Whether it’s been one year or 10, you have no idea how much the hotel has been modernized until you walk in the doors,” says General Manager Jimmy Thackston. “It’s new, it’s fresh. It’s not just a coat of paint, it’s a multimillion dollar renovation and a reestablishment of the venue.”