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SAN ANTONIO-Emily Morgan is getting a facelift–and more. The Downtown San Antonio hotel, next to the Alamo and Riverwalk, is beginning a $4-million renovation that will take it upscale and turn it and its 177 rooms into a boutique hotel. Boutique hotels usually are smaller and more stylish than larger hotels and they focus on customer service.

The project is to be completed in January 2002 with a grand re-opening in the spring. The hotel, owned by Alamo Hotels Inc. and managed by Westmont Hospitality, will continue to carry the Ramada Inn flag.

The Morgan’s rooms, including 24 suites, will get new decor, carpet, drapes and fixtures. Mitchell Carlson Stone Inc., a Houston-based architectural and interior design firm, is handling the design work. New amenities include in-room, high-speed Internet access, Jacuzzi bathtubs and cordless telephones. That’s the first phase and it begins this week. The second phase starts in October and will bring renovations to meeting spaces and public areas.

The changes will boost room rates from the current range of $79 to $159 to $149 to $289.The Morgan had a 63.8% occupancy for the four quarters ending March 31, according to Source Strategies, a San Antonio-based hotel consulting firm. Its average room rate was $93 and RevPAR, $69. The averages for Downtown hotels were 63.1% occupancy, $88 room rate and $55 RevPAR.

This isn’t the first time the building has been renovated. Erected in 1926 as an office building for doctors and dentists, it was reconfigured as a commercial building in 1975. A decade later, it was turned into a hotel at a cost of $17.5 million.

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