Sign in to follow this  
IronTiger

Twin Hotels of Beltway 8, Linked by a Bridge

Recommended Posts

When going with someone to pick someone else up from the airport, I passed by two hotels, which is of course nothing spectacular but something else piqued my interest: they were connected by an enclosed bridge, with one being Park Inn by Radisson and the other Baymont Inn & Suites. This connection has been intact since the 1980s (the Park Inn was built in the 1970s). It's more than likely that these things have changed names over the years, but is there any story behind as to why these two hotels are connected? Is the bridge still open and they just left it like that? Were they originally one name?

There has to be a good story behind this. Does anyone know?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably a franchisee that owned or owns both.

Well, Baymont and Park Inn are not common ownership, and given the age of it, I'm guessing it used to be something more interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HCAD was generally unhelpful, counts the entire building as one with one address (500 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. E., Baymont on the newer side has 502) with one build date (1979, unknown if that's the build date of the second hotel or the first), and no leads on the hotel ownership changes. Undoubtedly, the twin hotels flew under different flags, and frankly, I'm not sure if the skywalk is even still open to walk from one hotel to the other. Anyone have any other ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, IronTiger. This was the original Hilton Inn Intercontinental Airport. Built in 1978, and opened in '79, it originally was just 500 North Belt. The original hotel was 220 rooms, on 2 floors, no elevator, a full service restaurant called "Wicker Works", a country night club called Chaps, and a full service bar named Cycles. It also featured 5 townhome suites occupying both stories, in a back building in the courtyard of the main building, whIch can be seen from aerials, which had 2 pools surrounding the townhome suites and a full size sauna beneath them. The hotel also featured a 4 bay grand ballroom that held around 800 people in total.

In 1980, the hotel was added onto on the adjacent property to the east, which added another 157 rooms, including a presidential suite featuring an in room jacuzzi, several full size meeting rooms, another bar named "The Wildcatter" which had an indoor/outdoor pool and another jacuzzi. The glass catwalk that you referred to was also built with the addition.

Fast forward to 1993. Hilton is dropped from the hotel and refranchised to Choice Hotel's Clarion Inn. Still operating as a full service hotel, just without the Hilton name. Within a year, it was realized that a Clarion could not sustain a now 377 room hotel, so the 1980 addition was closed off and sat vacant for another year.

We now are at 1995 when, lo and behold, the property owners reach an agreement to bring the Hilton flag back to at least the addition, splitting the hotel in half, and reopening the addition as a Hampton Inn. The Hampton/Clarion combo lasted at this location for over 20 years, and seemed to maintain quite a clientele. It was typically packed with cars.

Then came 2006. It was sold by the Richfield Corporation to a private company named Riya Group. The place went from a dated, but bustling pair of hotels, to an absolute hell hole. I swear, within 6 months, this place had police cars or an ambulance and fire truck in front of it every night. Some of the drivers for our hotel used to say the clerks at the Clarion would stand out front smoking cigarettes, but not the ones you find at the store.

By 2009, the hotel had lost both the Clarion and Hampton flags, yet somehow continued to keep the doors open, with only (I kid you not) the employees' cars in the lot, and operating two hotels with no operating system or branding in place. I know that it got so bad at that hotel, that IAH would not even send distressed passengers to it at one point. After several months, the original hotel was branded, not a Days Inn, but a Days Hotel & Conference Center. The Hampton became the Baymont a few months after that, and has remained so since. The Days Hotel lasted about a year, then it changed to a Settle Inn for around 6 months, then to its current Park Inn. They've done quite a bit of work on the building's interior over the past couple of years, and I've seen brochures where the bedding and room decor has been modernized, oh and btw, it now has an elevator. On the Park Inn side. Apparently, not one on the Baymont side, in the old addition quite yet. Also, within the last couple of weeks, a new stone and iron fence is being erected around the property. I guess they are through having people cut through their parking lot, over their curbs, and across their ditch, when a driver feels the urgency to exit the freeway and cut down Spence to avoid Hardy.

The biggest problem I see, and have seen there a lot, is a lack of business. There's more cars there now, than there was a couple of years ago, but nowhere near the cash cow it was in its heyday. I remember when that Hilton had a line of patrons going from the back of the hotel, where Cycles was, clear out the front door just to get in. Those days are long over for this old girl. You know, IronTiger, I always thought that glass clad catwalk was pretty cool too. I think the building itself lost a lot of its charm in '93, when in the conversion to Clarion, it had all that stucco slapped on its exterior. I always thought the dark brown brick it originally was, especially with that catwalk lit up right in the middle, very sharp and rather classy. Not so much now. It is still in use, as I've seen people walk across it from time to time, while passing by.

Edited by Purpledevil
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And to answer a question posed above, they are both owned by the same franchisee. They are operated as seperate hotels, but share the restaurant and bar for both brand's guests. The nightclub has been closed for several years, but must be used for some types of parties still, as over the past couple of years, I've seen strobes and colored lights flashing in it a handful of times.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I stayed on the Park Inn side for a night a little less than a year ago. It was fine, relatively inexpensive, and there was a restaurant/bar, with free breakfast in the morning. The only problem was that the in-room A/C unit was extremely loud so I had to shut it off, but then it got quite warm without it. I think it was a Wednesday night, and there were a decent amount of people, but it didn't seem terribly crowded.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, thanks Purpledevil! I always knew there was some sort of cool story behind it. Recently, I'm a bit into hotels...the downtown Holiday Inn (you know, the one that's been gutted down to a skeleton) is one such example. Perhaps it's the fact that I realize I haven't stayed in a hotel in over 2 years for various reasons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, IronTiger, this one's for you. I made a quick stop by the catwalk last week, went up there, and snapped these for you. Now that I have figured out the attachment aspect of the HAIF, the purple one can share...

Shhhh!

post-12796-0-39856900-1405623488_thumb.j

post-12796-0-26769200-1405623523_thumb.j

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this