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Good Times for Tallahassee Hospitality Market

Tom Flanigan

Tallahassee is in a growth spurt. One of the big beneficiaries of that growth is the city’s hotel business.

Long-time Tallahasseeans will recall one of the city’s iconic hotels began life in 1968 as “The Round Holiday Inn”. As the city rolled into the new millennium, new owners came and went and the deteriorating building at one point seemed destined for the wrecker’s ball. But five years ago this week – following a multi-million dollar makeover – the hotel re-opened as the Four Points by Sheraton. In its new identity, the property’s general manager was – and is – Bo Schmitz.

“I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished,” Schmitz said as his staff prepared to celebrate the reborn hotel’s 5th anniversary. “We have a lot to overcome. A lot of negativity (because) previous ownership groups didn’t take care of the building, didn’t invest in the building or the staff and our owners have been wonderful. They’ve been good to me and our team and they put the money into the property.”

Things at the Four Points by  Sheraton are so positive, Schmitz said, that he, in what is so often a very transitory job, is in it for the long haul; something he didn’t expect when he took the job.

“I did not!” he insisted. “I moved here 6 ½ years ago with a 5-year plan and here I sit and I’m not going anywhere. I love this community, it’s home now, my wife loves this community, our kids love it here.”

Another reason Schmitz may love it here is that business is good.  On the day of this interview, guests were lining up in the lobby to check in. And Schmitz said this is no isolated incident.

“I see growth! I see opportunity. There are a lot of hotels in the pipeline here locally; some under construction, some in the permitting stage, so it will be interesting to see how the next years develop. But there’s no question that our community is growing so that means opportunity for quality properties.”

Helping to drive this opportunity, Schmitz said, is the fact that for the hospitality industry, Tallahassee’s tradition of a big business drop in the summer seems to be history.

“It used to be a very seasonal market. In fact when I moved here, that is what I was told is that in the summertime people rolled up the sidewalks and closed their businesses and we really don’t have a slow month here. We are always running high occupancy.”

Essentially, Schmitz sees a rising guest tide in Tallahassee lifting all hotels.

“That doesn’t scare us. We welcome competition,” he said. “We’re going to run a good hotel and others will as well and we’re all going to try and provide great hospitality to people visiting Tallahassee and that’s what this is about and it’ll be a great opportunity for all of us.”

It’s a very different Capital City hotel market from when the old “Round Holiday Inn” opened nearly half-a-century ago.