Montgomery Renaissance celebrates First anniversary

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- One year ago, the Renaissance Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center promised a breath of fresh air for Downtown Montgomery.

Today, it's still going strong--a Mecca for conventions, meetings, and people just passing through the city.

"I stayed here before.  I stayed here in December.  It's a beautiful hotel.  Of course, I'm a teacher, so I have to support it," said Anne Harris, a Cullman resident staying at the hotel.

The hotel's general manager couldn't be happier at this point. 2008 brought more than 120,000 guests and 1,699 events.

Having the space to bring big shows and expos doesn't hurt.

"It was great to get the Air Force Technology Conference back to Downtown Montgomery, as well as it was super to have Buckmasters back in Montgomery," Kennedy said.

Kennedy admits, however, the rough economy did dip into the hotel's first year.

"We have had a few cancellations. The Fall was a little uncertain," he explained.

Slower sales meant nearly 60 layoffs in October, but a resurgence of public interest keeps management optimistic.

"The phones are ringing.  We're booking some short term business, so our late winter and early spring looks very good," Kennedy said.

That's good news for the area--sparking competition with nearby hotels and venues and bringing life back to downtown.

We just walked around the block, and we're amazed at the renovations to the old buildings.  They're beautiful," Harris explained.

Hotel management tells WSFA 12 News--even with a slow economy--they don't foresee any more layoffs in the future.