OGDEN -- Dozens of people attended an open house Friday to show off $2 million in renovations at the Ben Lomond Suites and celebrate the formal opening of MacCool's Public House restaurant in the historic downtown hotel.
The aim of the open house was to showcase the return of the Ben Lomond, 2510 Washington Blvd., to its former grandeur and to officially welcome MacCool's, an Irish-themed eatery.
"Our main message is that we are open and we are here to prove that we are the place for hospitality in downtown Ogden," said Blake Citte, general manager of the Ben Lomond.
The 102-suite hotel is owned by Dave Powell, who resides in Florida, and Gary Hamaker and brothers Bill and Gary Gavin, who all live in California.
Renovations to the hotel have been under way since 2009, Powell said Friday, adding he's pleased with how the restoration has turned out. "We are excited about this," he said.
The Ben Lomond is the last remaining grand-style hotel in Utah and the first in the state to become affiliated with Ascend Collection, a subsidiary of Choice Hotels International, Inc., Citte said.
The affiliation means the Ben Lomond will have access to Choice Hotels' global reservations system and gains visibility before an international network of more than 12 million Choice Privileges reward members. Additionally, the hotel will receive marketing support and an online presence at www.choicehotels.com.
David T. Greer, a brand performance consultant for Choice, said his company is very selective in adding to hotels its Ascend brand. Hotels typically have to be unique, historic or a boutique-type establishment, he said.
The Ben Lomond currently has 87 suites open on nine floors, said Citte. Rooms have been outfitted with new vinyl walls, carpeting and other amenities.
The hotel's lobby and Sunlite room have been repainted. There also are marble floors, ornate vaulted ceilings and decor in the Italian Renaissance Revival style.
The Ben Lomond is also Ogden's tallest building and offers views of the downtown area and Wasatch Mountains. The site the Ben Lomond occupies has been home to a hotel since the late 1800s.
MacCool's opened in the southeast corner of the hotel in March.
Scott Schlisman, co-owner of MacCool's, said the restaurant has received tremendous community support.
"I couldn't be happier with the great people I've met in Ogden," he said.
The restaurant has four distinct dining areas. One area resembles a traditional Irish pub, the others have country cottage, Victorian era and Gaelic motifs. MacCool's also operates in Layton and Salt Lake City.