September 14, 2000

Adam’s Mark Renovates to Stay Competitive in Second 25 years

By Jerome Obermark
– The Commercial Appeal –

The Adam’s Mark Hotel in East Memphis is in the midst of a $1.8 million upgrading to attract business travelers in a highly competitive hotel market.

Copiers, fax machines, computers and laser printers will be installed in a planned business center, said Steve Robbins, general manager.

New 25-in color television sets with keyboards and access to the World Wide Web also will be added in hotel rooms. All guests’ rooms also will include high-speed Internet access.

At the same time the hotel is being readied for the future, its owners and managers will take time Friday to mark its 25th anniversary.

The East Memphis hotel’s name, ownership and management have changed several times since it opened September 15, 1975, as a Hyatt Regency. In December 1989, the name was changed to Omni Memphis Hotel. And, in May 1992 it became the Adam’s mark Hotel.

The hotel at 939 Ridge Lake has been a favorite gathering place for wedding receptions, anniversaries, Liberty Bowl parties, business meetings, banquets and formal balls.

And harpist Frances Phillips entertained guests at many of those functions.

As a 22-year old recent graduate of University of Memphis, she played at the Hyatt Regency when it opened. The first song she played was Ebb Tide, she said.

"That was my first job. The trademark of Hyatt Regency hotels was to have a harpist at that time," she said.

Since then, she has played more than 1,200 weddings, and too many parties to count.

She also has played at Sunday brunches in the hotel’s restaurant for the past 25 years.

"I think it was the first hotel in Memphis to have Sunday brunches. It started a trend, and other hotels followed," she said.

The restaurant is now called Bravo Ristorante. It was called the Garden Terrace when the hotel opened, she said.

I think the vision for the hotel has remained the same – that it be an upscale hotel with quality, service and ambience," she said.

The hotel was one of the first built in East Memphis, said J. Bayard Boyle Jr., chairman of Boyle Investment, which was an original owner.

"We wanted it as a catalyst for the office park," Boyle said.

When it opened in Ridgeway Center, there were only a few office buildings there.

Now, the 156-acre Ridgeway Center has more than 20 office buildings, said Henry Morgan, president of Boyle Investment Co.

A Holiday Inn on the south-west quadrant of Poplar and Interstate 240, which has changed to The Ridgeway Inn, was the only competition in the area 25 years ago.

Now, the Adam’s Mark has competition all around it. Other hotels in the same area include the Hawthorn Suites, Embassy Suites Hotel, Hampton Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites, Homestead Guest Studios, Holiday Inn and a Comfort Inn.

The Adam’s Mark now has 408 rooms and about 280 employees. About 5,000 square feet of additional meeting space was added last year with the addition of a junior ball room and three additional meeting rooms, Robbins said.

Its occupancy has been about 60 percent in recent months, he said.

"We’re in a competitive environment. We are going after more group business and business travelers," Robbins said.