City's oldest hotel now a Ramada Inn

September 05, 1992|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

Eight months after it was sold to new owners, Baltimore's oldest hotel is now aligned with the newest entrant in the city's growing hotel business.

The Howard House Hotel at 8 N. Howard St., which dates from 1904, has become the Ramada Inn-Inner Harbor, marking its affiliation with the Ramada Hotels chain of Parsippany, N.J.

Lloyd Simon, general manager of the 90-room inn, said it became Ramada franchise and part of Ramada's reservations system this summer after being a Best Western franchise for several years.

He said the decision to switch affiliations was made jointly by himself and the property's new owners, the Summit Investment Co. Ltd. of Lawrence, Mass.

Summit acquired the hotel last January for $545,000 from a lender who had foreclosed on the previous owners, a group headed by Bernard Sandler.

Mr. Simon praised Best Western but said he and the new owners were impressed by Ramada's aggressive national and regional advertising and believed it would be more effective in generating business for the property.

Ramada also has programs that are tailored to a wide range of business travelers and conventioneers -- two groups that the new owners are intent on attracting.

"I think it will be very good for us," Mr. Simon said of the change to Ramada. "They were very anxious to get into the city."

The change does not affect the hotel's staff of 40 people or the inn's room rates, which range from $78 to $91 per night.

The seven-story hotel closed for several months in 1990 after experiencing a drop-off in business that previous owner Bernard Sandler claimed was because of the construction of the state's light rail line from Timonium to Anne Arundel County.

Mr. Sandler eventually filed for protection from creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and lost control of the building.

The Belvedere Hotel in Mount Vernon, built in 1903, was downtown Baltimore's oldest hotel until it was converted to condominiums last year.

That left the Howard House as Baltimore's oldest active hostelry, 25 years older than the Radisson-Lord Baltimore.

Mr. Simon said the 88-year-old hotel has room within its shell to add about 20 more rooms and that the new owners hope to do so within the next year.

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