PHILADELPHIA -- Western International Hotels agreed Tuesday to assume management of the Fairmont Hotel and return the city landmark formerly known as the Bellevue Stratford to its original name.
The takeover by Western International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UAL Inc., is effective Saturday.
Bernard M. Guth, in charge of hotel operations for Rubin Associates, the current owners, said Western International has also agreed to purchase 'a substantial interest in the hotel and will participate as a partner in addition to its management responsibilities.'
He said the Seattle-based company plans to construct a multi-story addition which will include parking and a new ballroom at the hotel which is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
The Bellevue Stratford, once known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Broad Street,' closed its doors in November 1976 after 29 people died of 'Legionnaires' Disease' following a state American Legion convention.
The 565-room hotel reopened a year ago as the Fairmont, under the management of Rubin Associates. The rebirth came after a $22-million restoration that included the installation of 44,000 square yards of new carpet, 25 tons of Portuguese marble and 30,000 pieces of crystal.
Western International officials decided to return the hotel's original name because 'it feels the name has a beloved place in the city and they thought that people would be thrilled to have it back,' said Judith Morse, a spokesperson for the hotel.
Ms. Morse said the reason for the sudden change in management 'was between the management and the owners' and would not be made public. She also said Western International's percentage of ownership and the purchase price would not be released.
F. Bart Moore, resident manager of The Plaza Hotel in New York City, another Western International hotel, was named general manager of the new Bellevue Stratford.
There are no plans to lay off any of the hotel's 650 employees, said Ms. Morse. The only personnel changes will be the new general manager and a new sales director, she said.
Harry Mullikin, president and chief executive officer for Western International, said, 'We have long been interested in being represented in this city, and the opportunity to participate in the further development of the all new Bellevue Strafford is an exciting challenge for us.'
Western International Hotel is the oldest operating hotel management company in the United States. Its owner, UAL Inc., is also the parent company of United Airlines.