Ownership change closes Omaha hotel for Berkshire weekend

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Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 12:00 am

The Omaha Executive Inn & Suites on the southwest corner of 72nd and Grover Streets has officially changed ownership and is closed for remodeling.

That means more than 300 reservation holders, including some planning to be in Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual meeting, have had to make other arrangements.

Robert Pagan, a Rapid City, S.D.-based developer, said the 118,000-square-foot hotel is to reopen in August under a different major brand yet to be announced.

A nearly $6 million transformation plan calls for about 180 guest rooms, more convention space, a bigger outdoor pool and fire pit area, a remodeled lounge and restaurant and a sleek modern exterior.

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Pagan, co-owner of Dark Canyon development company, said people who had reservations with the former owner for the next few months should have received a phone call explaining the change. Those reservation-holders need to make arrangements to stay at a different hotel, he said.

One reservation-holder contacted The World-Herald and said neither she and her husband nor their son, who had booked a separate room under a different name, got a phone call or an email.

The woman, who lives in New York, said she happened to call the Executive Inn in mid-February to extend a visit in Omaha during the May 4-5 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting and was told that it had been sold and that she'd be getting further information.

She said she feels fortunate to have made reservations at a different hotel for the weekend of the Berkshire Hathaway meeting, but she was concerned about other visitors.

Michael Stockman, who will be general manager of the remodeled hotel, said in a phone interview this week that the previous owner tried to contact customers. Stockman said that over three or four days he also called the more than 300 reservation-holders, about half of which were booked as groups. He said perhaps not everyone left a working phone number. About 35 rooms had been reserved for the weekend of the Berkshire meeting, he said.

“We take our reputation very seriously,” Stockman said.

As of this week, said Deborah Ward of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau, there were about a dozen hotels in Douglas County that still had availability for the May 4-5 weekend.

Hotels in the past few years have been busy the weekend of the Berkshire meeting. The occupancy rate on that Friday typically runs about 94percent, said Ward, and Saturday's occupancy runs about 90 percent.

The average occupancy rate for the county last year was 56percent (considering every day of the week), Ward said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1224, cindy.gonzalez@owh.com

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