The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel offers more than just accommodations to visitors of Grand Rapids, Mich. “One of the objectives of our owners has always been to spur development in the city’s downtown, and that continues to be a focus of ours,” President Richard Winn says.
The 682-room hotel, adjacent to two other large hotel properties and the city’s convention center, regularly makes changes and additions to its offerings with the larger community in mind. One recent example of this was three years ago, when the hotel rebranded a AAA five-diamond restaurant on the property, the first and only one of its kind in the state. “We liked the prestige of having the restaurant, but it wasn’t really driving people to the downtown,” Winn adds.
Instead, the hotel brought the global upscale brand Ruth’s Chris Steak House to the site, a risk that reaped rewards for the hotel by quadrupling the amount of foot traffic to the restaurant. The Amway Grand Plaza looks to continue this positive trend later in 2015, when it opens The Kitchen, a restaurant brand established by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. “We’re choosing what we feel are premier brands that fit well with the brand of the hotel and that will bring people downtown,” Winn says.
In addition to bringing more foot traffic to the downtown area, the hotel and its owners are among the region’s largest employers. The hotel is owned by a division of international direct-selling company Amway, headquartered in nearby Ada, Mich., 12 miles east of Grand Rapids.
The hotel’s efforts have helped greatly increase economic development within the city. According to a survey published in Forbes, the Grand Rapids region ranked as the fifth-fastest-growing economy in the United States in 2014. “What’s going on in Grand Rapids is really quite phenomenal,” Winn notes.
The Amway Grand Plaza itself has benefited from the region’s growth by becoming one of the state’s leading hotels in terms of occupancy, with the past four years seeing an upward trend. The property continues to reach high when it comes to growth and quality. “I believe you can attain what you think you generally couldn’t if you set that as your goal,” Winn says. “We establish goals that some might think to be unrealistic and that people don’t think we can achieve, but we achieve them and set new, even higher goals each year.”
A Complete Experience
The Amway Grand Plaza began to play a big part in the city’s economic development in 1981, when Amway purchased and reopened the property, formerly known as the Pantlind Hotel. Amway’s first significant investment in the property was a 29-story glass hotel tower, which opened in 1983. The company also restored the lobby of the original hotel building, which initially opened in 1916.
The company next year will complete a $14 million renovation of the glass tower, which includes upgrading corridors, lighting and guest rooms. “We’re trying to incorporate everything a customer has come to expect from a modern hotel experience,” Winn notes.
The Amway Grand Plaza is one of two hotel properties owned by Amway. The company also owns the JW Marriott Grand Rapids and operates and manages the downtown Courtyard by Marriott. Both Marriott properties are adjacent to the Amway Grand Plaza and connected to it via a climate-controlled skywalk. In total, the three properties offer 1,200 guest rooms within a two-and-a-half city block area.
Each property takes a unique approach to serving guests, many of whom stay at the properties on corporate or association business. The Amway, in particular, offers an historic ambiance and four-diamond service. “Whether someone is here for a business meeting, association meeting or for leisure, we want to make sure that once they arrive here, they won’t have to worry about anything other than their business at hand, so they can enjoy the hotel as their home away from home,” Winn says.
Employees are key
Winn credits the hotel’s owners with sustaining not just the business for nearly 35 years, but many of its employees, as well. The company offers employees several benefits including incentive plans.
“We’re fortunate to have Amway as our parent corporation, as they have a longstanding appreciation for their employees, and firmly believe people are the primary and most important part of growing and sustaining a business,” Winn adds.