Friday, July 14, 2006

New JW Marriot hotel pays homage to Grand Rapids's sister cities
The Grand Rapids Press
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
By Eric Gallippo

GRAND RAPIDS -- When Alticor Inc.'s JW Marriott Hotel opens in 2007, Grand Rapids' sister cities will have more than a mention on a city limits sign to make their presence known. They will have 24-story, $60 million hotel decorated in their honor.

JW Marriott officials announced Tuesday the new hotel, under construction at the northwest corner of Louis Street and Campau Avenue downtown, will adopt a theme from Grand Rapids' four existing sister cities of Bielsko-Biala, Poland; Ga District, Ghana; Omihachiman, Japan; and Perugia, Italy; and the future sister city in Zapopan, Mexico, which is to be formalized in 2007.

JW Marriott and Grand Rapids Sister City Committee officials also hope the theme will help land the Convention of Sister Cities International in 2009.

The four-day convention will host an estimated 1,000 international and domestic visitors, said David Mix, Sister City Committee president.

The 2007 convention, which Grand Rapids bid for, is being held in Spokane, Wash. Mix was "blown away" when hearing about the theme for Grand Rapids' newest high-rise hotel.

When completed, the hotel's public spaces, meeting and guest rooms and parking decks are to feature art inspired by the cities.

Local photographer Dan Watts has been commissioned by JW Marriott to travel to each to capture images to be hung in guest rooms. Local artists also are being solicited.

Hotel manager George Aquino came up with the theme after seeing a sign listing the sister cities. Featuring them in the hotel seemed like a way to bring the world to Grand Rapids and "adds color to the palette."

"A lot of Grand Rapids companies are international companies," he said. "We are an emerging international city."

©2006 Grand Rapids Press
© 2006 Michigan Live. All Rights Reserved.

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