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To Be or Not To Be: Cedar City, UT Recap

Anthony is off to Cedar City, Utah to do some skiing and then help the Stratford Court Hotel. Cedar City brings in 150,000 people for their Shakespeare Theater. Next to the Adams Theater is the Stratford Court Hotel, which is ranked online as one of the worse in the city. The owners, Steve and Gina Nelson, are deep in debt after acquiring the Stratford, a branded hotel, and several retail buildings. If the hotel fails then they'll lose the rest of the property as well.

In the parking lot, Anthony suspects that the hotel looks closed. There's no welcome on the sign, the shrubs are dead, and he finally locates a sign announcing that they're renovating. They've made arrangements for guests to check in across the street at the Best Western El Rey. Anthony goes inside and discovers that the lobby is under renovation. A worker explains that the owners have been renting rooms out. Outside, Anthony watches two guests arrive. They come to the sign and tell Anthony that they received no notification about the renovations. Anthony follows them to the El Rey and the front desk clerk, Enoch, greets them. The guests explain about the situation, and Enoch apologizes. He says that their distributor didn't notify them, and Anthony confirms that they don't have a website.

Once the guests check in, Enoch confirms that he's the GM and has worked there for two years. The owners bought the Stratford and then put Enoch in charge of both hotels. Enoch explains that haven't bought a website yet, even though they are renovating the lobby. Anthony confirms that the El Rey is a branded hotel and has a website, and Enoch has never handled a rebranded hotel. He asks if Enoch is weak, pointing out that a hotel needs a website before a renovated lobby. Anthony tells Enoch that he can't be a lapdog for the owners.

Back at the Stratford, Anthony checks a room and discovers that it is out-of-date and the linens are thin. The mattress is stained and the AC filter is covered in dust. The chair is covered in fabric and it's filthy. Anthony meets with the Nelsons and confirms that they spent a million dollars on the El Rey because the brand required them to. They plan to do the same renovations to the Stratford over three years, and Anthony warns that the money is going to the wrong things. He asks the Nelsons what they're doing, and Steve explains that they're new in the industry. Steve took over the hotels as a real-estate investment and got in over his head. Anthony wonders why he's so choked up about the town, and Steve explains that his ancestor was one of the original settlers. He admits that they've leveraged every property he has and they're financially tapped out. Gina is concerned about the money and can't focus on her family. Anthony says that the STAR report shows there isn't a lot of money for hotels in Cedar City. He tells the Nelsons that they have to take advantage of the summer festival business.

Anthony calls in designer Anne Rue, who tells the Nelsons that the rooms are the most important thing. The couple show Anne their floor plan, and Anne says that she needs to make some adjustments. Anthony tells her that the room is clean but advises her not to sit on the chair. Anne brings in a team from Schmidt Construction, while Anthony goes to the Adams Theater to meet with Scott Phillips, the executive director of the festival. With him is Maria Twitchell, the city tourism director. They explain that the Adams is a destination theater, and their festival is among the top four Shakespeare festivals in the country. Scott shows Anthony around the theater, and Anthony explains that the Nelsons don't have a website. They don't work with Scott and Maria, much to Anthony's surprise.

Anthony meets with Steve and Gina again, and Steve explains that he owns the most valuable property in Cedar City. He wants to develop plazas and walkways, and Anthony says that he has to focus on the present. The Nelsons show him the full property and much of the town is empty on one side. Anthony realizes that if the hotels fail then Cedar City could easily fail as well.

Realizing that he has to start with hotel operations, Anthony meets with Ray, the director of maintenance, and Chris, the director of housekeeping. Ray works at both hotels and basically runs them himself. Anthony brings Enoch in and has Ray and Chris explain that they need money. What money they make goes to the El Rey to keep the brand. Chris admits that she takes it personal when things don't go right, and Enoch sympathizes.

Anthony figures that he has to take drastic action with the Stratford and meets with the Nelsons. They confirm that occupancy and satisfaction is up at the El Rey, and Anthony says that their departments are short-supplied and they need a website. He advises them to focus on the El Rey and close the Stratford, and then slowly renovate it. Gina hesitates and then says that there's one more thing they need to tell Anthony. The Stratford is on interest-only payments, and in January it becomes a full payment. The payment is currently $5,000, and will go to roughly $13,000. Anthony points out that they have no plan for the Stratford and walks out, angry.

The Nelsons go after Anthony and catch him in the parking lot. Steve begs him to help them figure out a plan to get through the summer, and promises that they'll do whatever they can. Anthony warns that they will lose revenue and reputation for the Stratford, and goes to try and figure it out.

Anne and her team are busy at work, but Anthony realizes that the renovations won't be enough to save the Stratford. The designer says that they're overwhelmed, and Anthony tells her about the new payments. He says that they need to do more rooms to give the Nelsons a chance, and wants to do an entire floor. Anne says that they need manpower, and Anthony has her create a template to paint and update the furniture while he goes to get some manpower. Anthony meets with Dan of the Iron County Home Builders Association. The hotelier explains the situation, and Dan says that he has a list of members that will be glad to help.

On the third day, over a hundred volunteers arrive in the parking lot. Anthony brings Anne and the Nelsons out to see the crowd, and Steve thanks them for their help. Anne puts everyone to work, while Anthony goes over the renovation plan with Enoch. He explains that Enoch has to start working on the on-line reviews by fixing the other 33 rooms. Anthony then tells the GM that he's a lousy revenue manager because he drove his average rate too high. They sit down and go over Enoch's checklists, and Anthony gives him a lesson in managing an independent property.

Next, Anthony invites the Nelsons to the Adams Theater. He puts on a costume and goes out to perform as Macbeth. Everyone applauds and Anthony says that all of the business owners have to come together and share in the spirit of the festival. The actors then teach Anthony how to stage fight.

Back at the Stratford, Anthony worries that they're not making enough progress. He tracks down Anne and warns that they need to be done by the fourth day. Anne shows him the first room and admits that painting in the other rooms won't be done until the next day. Anthony realizes that they will be leaving without the work completed. However, volunteers work around the clock and finish the work in time.

On the last day, Anthony and Anne show the Nelsons the renovated template room. American Hotel Register provides new linens and Anne's people cleaned the carpets. Anthony explains that 16 other rooms have the same renovation, and they can bring the overflow from the El Rey to the Stratford. Next, he shows them the completed lobby. A new breakfast area has been added, donated by Creative Breakfast Concepts. There are Shakespeare busts and paintings, and Anthony suggests that they bring in festival actors to interact with the guests. Finally, he shows the Nelsons their new website donated by FINE. Anthony congratulates Anne and admits that he was a bit scared.

Finally, Anthony and the owners go out and thank all of the volunteers. The Nelsons thanks them for the 2,000 volunteer hours that they put in, and Anthony says that it all comes down to Enoch.

Written by Gadfly on Sep 23, 2015

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