The Omni Inner Harbor Hotel, owned by Wyndham International, will operate under the Wyndham flag next week.
"We as a corporation have long thought that Baltimore was a critical market for Wyndham," said Fred H. Stern, vice president of communications for Wyndham International Inc., based in Dallas. "We've always wanted to be part of the downtown hotels."
The flag change at the 707-room hotel, which is the largest in the state, coincides with a $6 million upgrade to the West Fayette Street property.
The hotel has been owned by Wyndham since 1998 when the company merged with Patriot American Hospitality Inc. Wyndham then franchised the hotel to Omni.
By Sept. 30, interior signs, telephone face plates, room service cards and match books will lose the Omni name, which has been on the hotel since 1984.
"People will go to sleep in an Omni and wake up in a Wyndham," said Robert D. Arnold, director of sales and marketing for Omni. "I have the gray hair to prove it."
By Nov. 15, guests should see new mattresses and box springs and work stations equipped with high-speed Internet access, ergonomic chairs and two-line, cordless telephones as part of the upgrade.
Outside, improvements will be made to the arrival area, signage and landscaping. One large sign will be placed on the tower by October and will be visible from Camden Yards.
Room rates are expected to remain comparable to those charged at the Omni - about $169 to $229 a night.
Most clients are with groups
Sixty percent of the hotel's clients are group and convention guests and 40 percent transient guests, most of them business travelers.
As a Wyndham hotel, frequent customers of the chain can have rooms prepared to their exact specifications, down to the feather or foam pillow, the music playing on the radio and the room's temperature setting.
The service is triggered by a customer's third stay in a Wyndham whereupon they are invited to list their preferences. The list is put into a database for use when the client stays at a hotel in the chain.
"That's where we'll really be able to set ourselves apart from the other branded hotels downtown," Arnold said.
Wyndham International owns, leases, manages and franchises hotels and resorts in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe.
A familiar name
The company operates three brands: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which includes the Baltimore property; Wyndham Luxury Resorts; and Summerfield Suites by Wyndham.
Baltimore is familiar with the Wyndham name from the days when the chain's flag was to grace the new Inner Harbor East hotel here.
The hotel that has since become the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.
The 750-room Waterfront, expected to open in February, will be larger than the Wyndham.
"The opportunity in the Inner Harbor was attractive at the time," Stern said.
"Unfortunately, it didn't work out. We have this fabulous hotel in downtown Baltimore that we think would be the perfect place to have the Wyndham name."