CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Added beds, new names and a new hotel: Charleston's downtown lodging scene is changing.
Just off the Leon Sullivan Way exit on Washington Street, the Fairfield Inn is now operating as the Charleston Capitol Hotel. The hotel shed its Marriott franchise and changed its name recently.
"This was a lot of things coming together," said Ash Patel, CEO of Southwest Hospitality that manages day-to-day operations at the hotel. "At one point, we weren't able to sustain what Marriott wanted us to do, and from a brand standpoint, we wanted to be something different."
Patel sees the transition as an opportunity. The hotel's signs have changed and all the proprietary Marriott material has been removed from the hotel.
Patel said upon coming out of the recession, some of the brand mandates had become too regulated.
The hotel will retain the same staff but offer a new boutique experience. The Charleston Capitol Hotel hopes to fill downtown's extended stay void, Patel said. The hotel will book rooms for varying time periods when needed.
"You get restricted with the brands," Patel said. "It's an experiment for us at this point."
Patel added that with the construction of another Marriott hotel downtown along the Elk River the move to operating as an independent made even more sense.
"When you have multiple Marriott locations the reservations are shared by the system," Patel said.
A Courtyard by Marriott is being built at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers along the Kanawha Boulevard. Construction for the project started on Feb. 28 and is expected to be complete in August 2014.
The hotel is expected to have 120 rooms.
Tim Brady works as vice president of sales for the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau and sees the changes downtown as a positive.