The 78-room Courtyard by Marriott at 500 S. Front St. in downtown La Crosse has completed a multimillion dollar renovation, the largest since it opened in 1993, general manager Amy Penchi says.
Penchi, who has managed the hotel since 2000, also says the project and other nearby renovation and redevelopment projects have improved the neighborhood’s appearance in the past decade.
Penchi declined to be more specific about the cost of the hotel’s renovation, which began in January and was completed in September.
The renovation included the hotel’s lobby, guest rooms and exterior, she said. “Guests really love it; we’re proud of it,” Penchi said of the renovation.
The hotel now has the Courtyard by Marriott’s “Refreshing Business” lobby concept. The lobby’s new features include a 52-inch touchscreen GoBoard, which guests can navigate to find restaurants, local attractions and directions. Guests can connect to free wireless Internet service, and there are plenty of electrical outlets in the lobby for digital devices.
The Bistro restaurant has replaced the previous breakfast buffet operation and offers higher-quality and healthier menu items, Penchi said. It’s open for breakfast and dinner.
The Courtyard also has converted its room types from two full-sized beds to two queen-sized beds, added many more king rooms and removed outdated amenities such as in-bedroom Jacuzzis and blond woodwork, Penchi said.
“The upgrades offer a sleeker, more modern look from the inside out,” Penchi said of the overall renovation.
“The Courtyard brand has done a good job of keeping up with the times,” said Penchi, who has been in the La Crosse-area hotel industry since 1992.
“We’ve been through many brand initiatives like high-speed Internet in the guest rooms, doing away with bedspreads and going to a freshly made bed for every new arrival, flat-screen TVs, breakfast program changes, computer upgrades — you get the idea.”
“When I started this job (in 2000), our area was not a pretty site,” Penchi said. The Cargill grain elevator (which has since relocated to French Island) was often busy unloading trucks of grain destined to be shipped on the Mississippi River by barge.
“It’s been very exciting for us to see our surroundings transform from quite industrial to commercial and guest-friendly,” Penchi said of the three Riverside Center office buildings constructed in the past decade by Logistics Health Inc. CEO Don Weber and his wife, Roxanne, and the renovation of the former Mike’s Building Supply building into a new home for Piggy’s Restaurant.
“The businesses that have set up shop in Mr. Weber’s buildings and his own company have all brought additional revenue to our hotel and the whole community,” Penchi said.
“I remember going to the Downtown Mainstreet Inc. annual meeting where the area they were most focusing on transforming was the Cargill site,” Penchi said. “I think the future is bright for La Crosse, and I certainly hope that other areas like the Mobil Oil site can also see a similar transformation.”