Local group remodeling hotel

The Altoona Ramada Conference Center will reopen under new ownership and with a new name.

An opening date for the Altoona Grand Hotel has not been set, said John Ventura, general partner of a group of local business people who are buying the facility from Ramada Hotel of Altoona Inc., which had owned the property since 2000.

Ventura said the group will pour at least $1.5 million into renovation work at the hotel at 1 Sheraton Drive, which opened as the Sheraton Altoona Motor Inn in 1973.

The hotel is undergoing repairs and remodeling that will boast chef-prepared dining and elegant views, multiple restaurants and a revamped lounge.

This community focused hotel will have 124 full-service rooms, remodeled and redesigned indoor pool and conference rooms, as well as banquet and ballrooms accommodating groups up to 400 people, Ventura said.

“We want to bring it back like it was years ago with the Grouse’s Nest, Laurel Room and Tropical Courtyard,” Ventura said.

Each room will feature its own style adorned with a fresh look and one of a kind original artwork created on premises. Additionally, there will be studio and one-bedroom apartments offered for short- and long-term stay. Apartments will include use of all hotel amenities.

“There were too many rooms to keep occupied on a day-to-day basis. If we occupy them, we should be able to generate additional revenue,” Ventura said.

The reopening of the hotel is good news, said President and CEO Joe Hurd of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s difficult to appreciate the impact of a full-service hotel to an area like ours until you don’t have one. We have great hotels here. Losing the Ramada was a significant blow. Having them reopening is a major boost to our business community,” Hurd said.

The short-term goal is to get the apartments ready for occupancy by late summer, Ventura said.

Ventura, owner of Courtesy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Nissan and general partner in Jethro’s Restaurant, is excited about taking over the Ramada.

“The Ramada was the only full-service hotel in the area. It was the premier place to go for many years. I think the community needs a place like that again,” Ventura said.

Rachael Lenhart, who served as assistant general manager at the Ramada, will be general manager at the Altoona Grand Hotel.

“Rachael Lenhart is committed and eager to restore the hotel to the area’s finest facility and bring back many of the things that so many locals have enjoyed in years past,” Ventura said.