by Ardie Arvidson
The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting at Clarion Inn and Suites at 1829 W. Lucas St. in Florence on Wednesday, marking its new chamber membership. Chamber ambassadors joined the staff at Clarion for the celebration.
The hotel was purchased in August 2018 by Gary M. Hodgins of Myrtle Beach, president, and his partner, Stephen Lam of New Jersey.
On Oct. 31, the hotel became a Clarion Inn and Suites. It was most recently a Ramada Inn.
The 224-room hotel features three conference rooms with a 300-person capacity when opened up as one; it also has a fitness center, courtyard with pool, bar and restaurant.
There are about 30 staff members. Tameka Ham is the assistant general manager.
The hotel is in the process of a two-phase renovation project. Phase I, which has been completed, included an upgrade to the lobby, restaurant, bar area, pool, fitness center, guest laundry facilities and west-wing guest rooms. Seventy-two rooms have been renovated.
Phase II, which is projected to be completed at the end of 2020, includes upgrade of all guest rooms, completion of 51 suites, refinishing of the parking lot and courtyard landscape update.
Hodgins said owning a hotel was on his “bucket list” of things to do. He said he was a chief financial officer in hotels for about 40 years. He is a Vietnam veteran. His partner, a Vietnamese, is a CPA. Hodges said they met when his partner worked for an outside audit firm for hotels he worked for.
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