A businessman’s dream to become a hotelier is nearly complete with the soon to open Days Inn in Maite which will have its first clients by the end of September.

Gone are any reminders of the former Palmridge Hotel. Bruce A. McKenzie and a team of 30-plus workers from three local contracting companies are renovating the property with turnkey materials from a Days Inn-designed blueprint plan. The companies are GMZ Contractors Wei ZongDing Construction and Chin Air Conditioning Inc.

He said “We have to work according to the Days Inn prescribed style which requires re-doing all customer touch points and hanging on all walls a special covering which is a particular challenge.”

McKenzie said he had to network through local channels to find a group of Filipino artists familiar with hanging wall coverings. The group had completed similar work at another Guam property The Outrigger Guam Resort & Spa. “I really have to hand it to these guys. We weren’t sure how to hang the specially designed wall covering on every wall but after some phone calls we found a team who are progressing smoothly.”

McKenzie is well known in Micronesia as chairman for Venture Transportation Corp. which does business as Budget Car Rental of Micronesia. McKenzie said he had “springboarded” into the franchise from a previous arrangement. “I used the relationship Cendant Corp. has with Budget to set up the franchising agreement to bring Days Inn to Guam ” he said. “Cendant is a company that owns nothing but franchising rights to such well-known companies as Century 21 Real Estate Howard Johnson Travelodge and Ramada Inn as well as literally hundreds more.”

Maria C. Daquigan has been named general manager. She has extensive experience at managing both resources and properties. Her most recent position was financial controller with Premier Imports and Topsy Distributing Co.

Daquigan holds a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix and was assistant director of finance for the Outrigger Guam Resort during its construction phase from 1999 to 2000. She said the challenge of overseeing daily operations of the hotel property was welcome. “This is something I have dreamed about for sometime. I think my abilities as a financial planner and construction manager will bring together all the elements necessary to make Days Inn Hotel Guam a success.”

McKenzie said the most difficult part of refurbishing the hotel was getting materials to Guam on a timely basis. “When they say it will take two weeks to get materials to Guam — well I’ve learned it takes a month.”

The property also has a three-level 2 300-sq. ft. restaurant 1 500 sq. ft. lounge and 2 200 sq. ft. conference/meeting room. McKenzie said he does not have food handling or restaurant experience and leased the area to a person with those qualifications.

Mary Mateo is the lessee and restaurant general manager. She named the restaurant I Natibu which means coming together in Chamorro. She said she has planned a facility that will highlight local Chamorro cuisine as well as offer a standard American fare. Plans are also in the works to built a sports bar and revive the Palmridge’s Owl’s Nest as a piano bar.

“This is the biggest challenge of my life but we are working with a very good team here and Bruce has let me set things up the way I want to ” Mateo said. The 24-hour restaurant will cater daily luncheon specials as well as nightly dinner favorites.

McKenzie said he had envisioned local fare for the restaurant. “It was really amazing that it just happened this way after plans for a King’s Restaurant fell through.”

Of the 66 rooms nine will be family-style suites located on the third floor. McKenzie said each suite would be named after an area in Micronesia. “We will have a Palau Suite as well as a Yap Suite and so on.”

McKenzie said he was targeting a particular clientele. “I’m going after the upper airport/business traveler market for the type of feel and accommodations which will be offered in this hotel. We are not really going to be a tourist hotel but will have a constant shuttle to and from the airport with a large van or small bus.”

McKenzie said the Guam property is featured in the Days Inn national and international marketing programs which also offer packages on the Internet. “What’s unique here is I will be offering —at least for the first six months we are open — a car and room package for $99 a day.”

McKenzie said along with the franchise for Days Inn he also has first development rights for Guam and Micronesia across Cendant Corp.’s entire product line.

“Days Inn is the first one I will bring in while I am also considering Howard Johnson and Ramada Inn. My interests are not just one project but much larger in nature.”

The shell of a hotel was purchased from Jones & Guerrero Co. for an undisclosed amount (See “Days Inn will target business-travel market with shuttle ” in the July 12 edition of the Journal). McKenzie said he purchased the hotel “for a very good price ” and that its facelift will bring the value of the hotel to $5.42 million. MBJ