Hawthorn Suites at Horse Park under new ownership

CONYERS -- The Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham hotel at the Georgia International Horse Park has been acquired by Centennial Resorts LLC of Raleigh, N.C., and will soon undergo renovations and upgrades.

Centennial Resorts General Manager Mac Ammanamanchi said Wednesday that upgrades to the 77-room hotel will include replacing furnishings in the rooms, exterior improvements, landscaping work and some reconfiguration of the ground level space. He said plans call for redesigning the restaurant and conference room into flexible space that can accommodate a grand ballroom for gatherings of up to 300 people.

In addition, Ammanamanchi said the new owners plan to open a full-service bar at the hotel, which now serves only beer and wine, and develop a full-service restaurant.

"We are planning to reconfigure a few things to make it more guest-friendly and make people feel that they are at home," Ammanamanchi said.

Ammanamanchi said Centennial Resorts plans to invest more than $400,000 in the property over the next three months, in addition to other improvements that will be made over the coming year. The hotel will remain open for business while improvements are under way.

Centennial Resorts will also take a different approach to marketing the hotel, Ammanamanchi said, by being more proactive about drawing guests with special golf packages and other activities.

"Usually the pattern has been the horse park is a big source of business between April and November," he said. "But we also need to focus on improving the business from Dec. 1 through the end of March when occupancy rates are low."

The hotel will introduce "stay and play" packages in conjunction with Cherokee Run golf course and may also offer horse and bike rentals for guests who want to take advantage of the horseback riding and mountain biking trails at the horse park. A putting green will also be installed behind the hotel, Ammanamanchi said.

Ammanamanchi said Centennial Resorts plans to have a larger presence in the community than the hotel's previous owners.

"We will be very active in the community," he said. "My goal as general manager is to be a big part of the community and see what we can do for the community."

Centennial Properties, which owns two other hotel properties, purchased the hotel from Earl Wilson of Gwinnett County, who has owned the hotel since it was built in 1999. Initially the city of Conyers owned the land on which the hotel was built -- slightly less than 4 acres -- and the surrounding 8 acres. Wilson and the city entered a long-term lease under which Wilson paid the city a minimum of $50,000 a year for the lease. If the hotel's revenues surpassed a certain threshold, the lease payments would increase on a percentage basis. However, City Manager Tony Lucas said the hotel never reached that threshold.

Lucas said in order to satisfy bank requirements for the sale of the hotel, it was necessary for the new owner to purchase the hotel property, as well. The city voted earlier this month to sell the hotel footprint for $300,000. The city retained the surrounding 8 acres.

Deed restrictions on the property require that the hotel be maintained at three-star quality. Lucas said if it became necessary for the city to enforce those restrictions, the matter would be handled through the Superior Court.