The Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center — a multi-million dollar project expected to link the city and campus — will be open to conference-goers, wedding parties, visiting alumni and more beginning with its soft opening Friday.
The hotel, which broke ground in September 2011, is located on the corner of South Depeyster Street and Haymaker Parkway. It features 94 rooms, a conference center, a boardroom and a presidential suite. The hotel also has a restaurant and a lounge, which are both open to the public.
Stephen Moore, assistant general manager and director of food and beverage, said that the proximity to the campus and the city will make the hotel a “one-stop shop.”
“There’s a beautiful esplanade that’s being built to connect the university with downtown; PARTA has a parking deck right next door,” Moore said. “A lot of things can happen within walking distance of the hotel. We like to be centrally located.”
The project was scheduled for completion in Spring 2013 with a budget of $15 million. Moore said that the completion delays do not bother him.
“In any construction project, in any development project, there’s going to be hiccups along the way and you plan for that,” Moore said. “You plan a contingency fund, you plan a contingency opening day and you keep shuffling back and forth. When all is said and done, we’re on schedule, we’re on budget, we’re on time and we’re happy to be that way.”
The hotel reflects the union of Kent State and the city of Kent: Zenas restaurant is named after Zenas Kent, the father of Kent’s founder, Marvin Kent. The lounge is named 1910, the year Kent State was founded. All throughout the building, Kent State memorabilia and artwork will be proudly displayed.
Heated indoor pool and whirlpool
24-hour workout room
5,000 square feet of event space
The Zenas Restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The 1910 Lounge features a video wall with nine television screens.
The ballroom has a capacity for 290 people but divides into three rooms, each with its own drop-down projection screen.
The hotel is part of the $110 million downtown Kent development project that aims to bring the entertainment and business center of the city closer to campus.
“I think the city government is looking forward to showcasing what can happen in downtown Kent,” Moore said. “The university would like to reconnect or connect further with their alumni and have a place for them to stay within walking distance of downtown and the campus. I think the local businesses are looking for an opportunity to bring in more sales people, to bring in more prospective clients. The Chamber of Commerce would like to bring in more businesses and this can be one of the cornerstones of the redevelopment process in downtown Kent.”
Sales manager Cindy Sherman said she expects the hotel to be busy year-round.
“Everyone’s anxious for us to open, everyone’s been very accommodating, very excited,” Sherman said. “Everywhere from the restaurants, to the shops, to the corporations, to the students over at the university.”
Custom-designed Amish wood furniture
Sherman said she is excited about the community enthusiasm for the Kent Hotel.
“I’ve opened a handful of hotels in other cities and states and this community, by far, has been the most welcoming and excited, more so than anywhere I’ve ever been,” Sherman said. “It’s like everyone is taking ownership of it and I love it.”
A grand opening is being planned for the fall. For reservations and more information, go to http://www.kentstatehotel.com/.
Contact Rebecca Reis at [email protected]