by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | July 9, 2015

Lobby of the Minneapolis Marriott NorthwestJust five years ago in Minneapolis, the 230-suite Northland Inn, which opened in 1990, was in foreclosure. StepStone Hospitality was awarded management of the property after it was purchased from the bank by new owners. What followed was a $24-million, top-down renovation, a conversion to the Marriott brand, and what can only be described as one of the most astounding turnarounds in a hotel's performance. It's crowning achievement? Last month what now is the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest was named Marriott International's Hotel of the Year for the Americas.

And, that's not all. The hotel sales staff was recognized as Marriott's Property Sales Team of the Year for ramping up revenues both in room sales and food and beverage by aggressively going after new markets and clients. "The sales team held many unique events on property to expose the newly renovated hotel to new clients, including a large wedding tasting to help drive business in that market," said Amy Lewis, director of sales and marketing for the property. "We also worked to develop strong relationships with third-party planner companies like HelmsBriscoe, and solidified our relationships with Meet Minneapolis and the Minneapolis North Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau to help us get the word out in the markeplace."

The team's unique efforts included hosting two televised events at the hotel with Twin Cities Live, a local television show. The first, a wedding tasting for couples, was capped with one lucky couple selected to have their entire wedding hosted at the hotel and televised on the show. The other was a lavish baby shower held at the hotel for a local television personality. The two live events gave the property a significant bump in local awareness, which drove a new revenue stream of community business.

Sales team of the Minneapolis Marriott NorthwestAll of these efforts paid off. The numbers the sales team were able to report to the corporate office were downright impressive: In 2013, its first full year of flying the Marriott flag, the hotel reported double-digit increases in revenue per available room, when the industry average for the city was in the low single digits. Last year, the hotel, which features 50,000 square feet of meeting space, hosted more than 1,000 meetings and events. According to Amy Lewis, the property's renovation, which included a complete remodeling of the lobby, as well as the fitness and business center and the addition of a private reception area, played a major role in stepping up the hotel's selling appeal. "The hotel's previous failure was really attributed to its poor condition. It sorely needed a renovation," she said. "And, the Marriott flag really helped to give it new life and a built-in base of Marriott-loyal customers."

Don't expect this team to rest on their laurels, though. They are already gunning to walk off with next year's top prize.