KEY WEST -- The Wyndham Casa Marina Resort & Beach House,
formerly a Marriott operation, is about to launch an $8.5 million
renovation along with an enhancement of its guest services.
Brian Gamache, the Dallas-based president of Wyndham's luxury
and resort division, was interviewed by Travel Weekly during a
recent weekend celebration marking the change of flag here.
The renovation will transform the 461-unit property from a
"regional to a world class resort," Gamache said.
This should happen by 2001, when the renovation is to be finished.
All public spaces will be redone, including the entrance, which
will be a throwback to its original 1920s look, including a long
Also to be revamped are the food and beverage outlets and
meeting space, while the pool area will be upgraded to a recreation
The former Reach operation, now the Casa Marina's Beach House
wing, will undergo a major room upgrade.
Service changes were already evident during the weekend
celebration, which Gamache said underscored Wyndham's determination
to become "the dominant player in the upscale resort business,"
overtaking Hyatt and Westin.
Poolside concierges, added in Key West, for example, were
providing more than towels. Offered were courtesy Evian water
cool-offs, loaner CD and Walkman players (with a choice of music),
courtesy magazines, samples of alcoholic drinks and fruit
shish-ka-bobs. Coming next are computer hook-ups in the pool huts
for guests who must check e-mail or a Web site.
Meanwhile, Wyndham has scrapped charges for mats, umbrellas,
snorkels, kayaks and windsurfers.
In addition, personal vacation planners, a year-old Wyndham
initiative, were added in Key West. The planners work with agents
and the public (on direct bookings). They follow through on leisure
reservations, determining guest preferences, assuring that on-site
services are delivered and following up on the return home.
Any incentives offered to previous guests to stay at a Wyndham
resort are redeemable through agents, Gamache said.
Some 100 hours of Wyndham instruction were provided to the Key
West employees by Ian Baxter, Wyndham's regional vice president,
and Michael Proimos, general manager.
Following the renovation, the Casa Marina will be able to lure
"new customers to Key West," Gamache said. He defined such
customers as those meeting groups who now go to Wyndham's El
Conquistador in Puerto Rico or Wyndham's The Boulders in
Scottsdale, Ariz., both established convention hotels.
In addition, upscale leisure travelers should look with favor
upon the revamped property, Gamache said, citing the emphasis on
upgraded accommodations and service. "Wyndham Casa Marina has
tremendous potential. A whole generation hasn't been there," he
In other news:There are plans, subject to government approval, to construct a
walkway from the Casa Marina to the Beach House wing.An on-demand water shuttle also is planned, possibly using
pontoon boats. Both properties have the same beach exposure and are
currently linked by shuttle vans. These vans also operate courtesy
airport transfers.Key West rates (depending on guest unit) through Dec. 25 are
$159 to $259 per night; Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, $395 to $495, and Jan. 2
to April 29, $245 to $355.Wyndham has no immediate plans to adopt Marriott's 10% to 8%
agent pay plan, Gamache said.
"Agents are the cheapest sales force you can employ. They're
only paid on productivity," he said. Agents earn overrides for
volume business, becoming members of the Wynners Circle.The company just launched TradeWynds, a seasonal update
magazine for agents, and introduced the Travel Agent Millennium
Jeanine Gilchrist, based in Oakland, N.J., is vice president of
travel industry sales, working with a sales force of 12.
Wyndham Casa Marina
Phone: (800) WYNDHAM