As Michael Lyman sat in the lobby of downtown’s new Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites in April, it had been two years since the Lucas County Commissioners announced a partnership with First Hospitality Group and Continental Real Estate Company to redevelop the former Park Inn at 101 N. Summit St. It had been eleven months since Lyman, relocated to Toledo from New York City, began working at the site as Complex Director, Sales and Marketing. And then, it was only a few weeks before the hotel would finally open to the public.
“I’ve done a lot of openings, and this is always that cusp,” Lyman said as he looked around the lobby. “It’s so exciting, and we’re running, running, running, and then we’re waiting for the door to open. And then also thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we did it. We actually did it.’”
A fresh start
The Hilton is more than just a new tenant in the old Park Inn building. Designers completely changed the facility’s footprint, adding a 24/7 fitness center, two dining options — Napa Kitchen and Bar and Cafe 419— and a large ballroom.
“This is beyond my wildest imagination, because the renderings were nice, but seeing it now, it’s just going to blow the socks off of many people,” Lyman said.
The building technically houses two Hilton brands— the Garden Inn for traditional hotel trips, and Homewood Suites, for extended stays. Lyman explains that, even beyond all the new amenities and features Hilton has included, the location is one of the biggest positives the hotel has going for it.
“We’re at the intersection of where you want to go and where you want to be,” he said. “Because we are footsteps from a world renowned art museum, we’re a short drive to a world-class zoo. You think about the proximity to area attractions like the Libbey House, Imagination Station— we’re perfect for the leisure market.”
Lyman’s excitement for the possibilities of the new hotel reflects his excitement for his new home. He’s lived in Toledo since May 2021, yet for all the stops he’s seen over the course of his career, he refers to the Glass City as the most interesting market he’s ever worked in.
“There’s one degree of separation [in Toledo]. Everybody knows everybody here. And I’ve found that’s an amazing thing, because there’s such a sense of collaboration here,” Lyman said. “People have opened up their personal rolodexes, but more importantly, they’ve opened up their professional rolodexes. That doesn’t happen in many markets that I’ve worked in.”
That sense of community has helped in staffing the facility. First Hospitality also operates the Renaissance on Summit St., providing a convenient place for training and orientation of staff before the Hilton’s official opening day. Lyman said that their goal is always to be an “experience” rather than a hotel, and the employees are a vital part of that. “We’ve really taken our time to look for the right employees. We hired people with enthusiasm and passion, because you can’t teach that,” Lyman said.
Lyman is pleased with reservations that are coming in and can’t wait for the opportunity to share the new hotel with guests. “We’re really going to get back on the radar of the other cities in Ohio, where people like to go, but also regionally, as well,” Lyman said.
UPDATED 6/3: A previous version of this article stated that the City of Toledo was partnered with First Hospitality for the Hilton Hotel project. City Paper regrets the error.