The Sheraton Madison Hotel on John Nolen Drive is well-positioned next to the Alliant Energy Center and is easily accessible to the beltline, bike trail and downtown Madison.
When acquired in 2017 by the DeFoor Brothers, its location stimulated a vision of success and plans for a $15 million renovation beginning in September 2018. Two years later, the hotel has completed the finishing touches of its remodel, surviving an economic crisis sparked by a pandemic that has savaged the hospitality industry.
The target completion date was April of this year, but was delayed to August due to disruptions in overseas shipping, custom work and contractor shortages due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sheraton saw a seven-figure loss of business for the year, according to hotel General Manager Adam Gautreaux. The team was cut by 75 percent during the pandemic and have since hired back 25 percent of those people impacted.
However, Sheraton never closed — not for the construction and not for the pandemic — even with the hospitality industry being hit especially hard in the spring and early summer.
“For us, with completing renovations and getting those efforts finished, it made sense to try to push through and remain open and operating, especially with how much was being invested, to have a revenue stream,” Gautreaux said.
He said a majority of group visits were cancelled for the year and business travel has been sparse.
“It’s been a challenge to be able to operate the property through finishing up renovations and through everything COVID-related, especially having more stringent guidelines from Marriott for a cleanliness standpoint,” Gautreaux said. “It’s been difficult for us, but we’ve been able to come together and make it all happen. We are pleased that we were able to push ourselves and forge ahead.”
Of the $15 million renovation, $10 million was put towards remodeling 239 guest rooms, and $5 million went towards meeting spaces, lobby, a market, and a hotel bar named The Hub.
Gautreaux said he thinks it will pay off in the long-term and anticipates getting back to pre-coronavirus business levels in one to two years.
“There’s a lot of unknowns, whether there’s going to be vaccination availability or therapeutics, but also how that coincides with the return of travel for both bigger groups and the business sector,” he said.
-Story and images by Stephanie Hoff