SpringHill Suites in Gainesville cut the ribbon Wednesday on its newly renovated hotel and celebrated the hospitality industry’s return to normal following the pandemic.
With food, drinks, music and a conga line, Rebecca Lamb, director of sales, said this is how you do a ribbon cutting.
Just two years ago, though, the hotel found itself in a different situation. With bookings at record lows, the hotel dropped from 29 employees to nine, and even those remaining had to take pay cuts.
The hospitality industry dived as a whole, but Lamb said the business is back and credited the new Alachua County Sports and Events Center as a primary driver. She said the track events in January helped fill a historically low month, and basketball tournaments in June and July will also keep the hotel out of a summer slump.
“But now it's exploding. It's beautiful and wonderful, and it's so exciting,” Lamb said.
Over the past five months, SpringHill Suites has revamped the interior, from a completely redesigned lobby to new carpet, furniture and kitchen. The hotel planned to do the work in 2020 to keep on schedule. Lamb said the hotel brand tries to renovate every seven to 10 years.
The sports center opened for indoor track in January and will host a three-day FABC/NCAA Scholastic Live Period Basketball Showcase in June. Officials at the indoor track naming ceremony said the center has already been booked for 2023.
Alachua County wants to keep the events rolling, and the Board of County Commissioners authorized staff to send a bid in order to host the World Masters Athletics in 2025—an event that could bring 4,000 participants plus spectators.
To enter the bid pool, the county will spend $20,000 to cover a site visit and other parts of the process. County Manager Michele Lieberman said the county had set aside $175,000 for such fees this year.