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A First Look at the renovated Crowne Plaza Detroit Convention Center

May 20 2013 | no comments

It sits on a prime piece of Detroit real estate — right across the street from Cobo, with a view of Hart Plaza and the river.   The new Crowne Plaza Hotel has a lot to offer guests.

The former Pontchartrain has a new owner and a new look.  And the year- long renovation process has been more than a cosmetic facelift.


Because, as you may remember, the final months of the Pontchartrain were plagued with a wide variety of systems problems.

But Assistant General Manager Nick Knight told us, “We actually addressed completely renovating the fire suppression system, ventilation throughout the building, heating pumps, everything is brand new and ready to run.”

But it’s the new design that will attract the attention of guests – beginning with the check in desk.

Each of the hotel’s 367 rooms has been completely updated, including the 88 suites in the new floor plan. And the concierge floor has its own lounge area.  Look out the massive windows and you see Detroit at its best.

According to the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau, hotel occupancy in metro Detroit was about 62-percent last year.  So were these new hotel rooms needed?

Nick Knight says, “Absolutely, and we need more.  We’re trying hard to make this the convention city that is deserves to be and adding this room count to the repertoire will really help and I’d like to see more coming.”

For those of us who live here, it’s not as much about the hotel rooms as it is about the restaurants and entertainment options.

When the hotel opens there will be the Jefferson House restaurant on the ground floor as well as the Urban Cellars bar.

Justin Vaiciunas is executive chef.  He told us, “I want to bring the Chicago, the New York, the L.A. dining experience to Detroit. And I feel there’s enough growing population of foodies in this town that want to accept that and enjoy it.”

That means you can expect menu items like a very different kind of crab cake.  “It’s a Japanese pancake that we’ve turned into a crab cake.”

We want to give something more than just a plate of food to the guests.  We want to make it an experience.

That’s especially true for the “Top of the Pontch” restaurant which will open on the 25th floor in late summer or early fall.  It will have very high end fine dining, but still have the casual feel to it because, “We don’t want to discourage anyone from coming.”

In fact, the goal is to get people from the entire region to come down to the Crowne Plaza

Vaiciunas says, “We need people down here and the more people we bring down here, Detroit thrives as a city and that’s the ultimate goal.”

The official opening date is set for the beginning of July – but Knight and his team are working hard to be able to welcome the first guests on May 30th.

It’s likely Detroit will welcome them.




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