PARKERSBURG - The past year was a good one for the Blennerhassett Hotel, in part due to efforts to broaden and expand the hotel's programs and offerings.
Blennerhassett general manager Cecil Childress said 2010 was a good year for the historic hotel, comparing favorably with the 2007 and 2008 peaks in recent years, before the current economic downturn began.
"We had about a 15 percent lift in business, which in this day and age is considered very good," he said.
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The Blennerhassett Hotel, at Fourth and Market, has been serving the Parkersburg area since the 1890s.
Childress said the Blennerhassett saw some change in its market, with the transient traveler remaining the best segment. Corporate group traffic remains soft, but the social group business has done very well, such as weddings and social events, he said. People might be spending less on those social events, individually, but an upturn in the number of such events worked out for the Blennerhassett over the past year, he said.
The hotel, constructed in the 1890s, is the oldest in Wood County. Childress said the Blennerhassett celebrated its 120th birthday in 2009.
Despite its age, the hotel has continued to develop with the times. In 2005, the Blennerhassett completed a major renovation project that brought it up to speed with many of the area's newer hotel amenities. For that reason, Childress said few capital improvements have been required in the past few years, beyond ongoing maintenance and upkeep.
In the past, the Blennerhassett saw itself as a hotel which included a restaurant and other food services, Childress said. In recent years, however, the focus has shifted and the Blennerhassett's entire food service operation has taken on more importance and a greater role in the hotel's business, he said.
Childress said the Blennerhassett didn't really add any new programs in 2010, but focused on refining and improving some of the ideas and programs it had started offering in previous years, such as monthly wine dinners, culinary programs, entertainment and similar activities.
"We had some really, really good results this year. Some of our stuff literally was doubling in size and in demand. That is good news," he said.
Looking ahead, Childress wants to continue doing "more of the same" while also continuing to refine and grow those events and look at other ways to bring people to the Blennerhassett. For the past several years, the Blennerhassett has incorporated its patio area as an entertainment venue during the warm months. Childress said he is looking at ways to add more entertainment opportunities on a year-round basis.
Childress also wants to look at ways to incorporate community events and activities into what the Blennerhassett does and offers. In 2010, the hotel worked with organizers of the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival in some ways and he wants to expand on that in the future.
Physically, the hotel's staff continued working to maintain and improve the hotel's infrastructure, including new HVAC work and roof repairs, in 2010. Looking ahead, Childress said he wants to do some more cosmetic work, renovating some of the guest rooms over the next year or two.