The brand new Courtyard by Marriott pulled out all the stops for its official ribbon-cutting Thursday evening.
A who’s who of Killeen movers and shakers were on the scene to celebrate the event, which included tours of the hotel’s guest rooms.
A string trio played classical music while guests noshed on prime rib, hors d’oeuvres and an array of desserts in the ballroom.
It was an auspicious beginning for the 148-room hotel, one of the tallest buildings in Killeen.
Paul West, principal at Maximum Management, which manages the property, was on hand for the event. The Courtyard is the eighth property managed by Maximum. West said Maximum put $7 million into remodeling the building, which was formerly the Plaza Hotel.
“This is a huge deal for us,” West said. “We heard this property was just sitting here, and we put a deal together, pitched it and here we are. We wanted to bring another first-class hotel to Killeen.”
Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said the new hotel, which has 11,000 square feet of meeting space, could play a pivotal role in Killeen’s economic future.
“I think it is a great venue for conventions and business meetings,” he said. “I think it’s going to allow us to attract more visitors and conventions.”
The actual ribbon cutting was carried out by Corbin and the Courtyard staff.
The Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce and the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce each presented the staff with a certificate of appreciation and a symbolic $1 bill.
“Between Killeen and Harker Heights, we already have $2 of profit,” joked Sherry Hoffpauir, senior sales manager for the Courtyard.
When the hotel was known as The Plaza years ago, it had a bad reputation in Killeen. Perhaps the most poignant declaration of the evening was made by First National Bank Senior Vice President Larry Linder as he toured the hotel’s “King Suite.”
“Boy, this is a far cry from what was here before,” he said upon entering the room.
“The Plaza was a complete dump,” he added. “They ran that place into the ground. This place is gorgeous. I think anyone would feel comfortable and welcome here like at any other first-class hotel.”