BILOXI -- Five months of training and preparation went into the transformation, and Thursday the former Sheraton Four Points in Biloxi is set to become DoubleTree by Hilton Biloxi.
"It's an incredible brand," said Kenny Glavan, manager of the Biloxi hotel on U.S. 90 at the base of Interstate 110. Along with the beach location -- adjacent to MGM Park and close to casinos and the Biloxi Lighthouse -- the upgraded amenities and service will appeal to corporate travelers and vacationers, he said.
Glavan and his 55 employees underwent extensive training while the hotel was being renovated.
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The changes start at the front desk, where guests can get a fresh espresso and a DoubleTree cookie when they check in.
"It's all about the cookie," Glavan said. The trademark warm chocolate chip and walnut cookie is presented in a way that symbolizes the DoubleTree experience, he said.
Where the previous hotel and restaurant were casual, he said, "there will be a little more sophistication to our brand."
Both overnight guests and the community can enjoy the Wake-Up Buffet, priced at $17.50. Warmers keep the eggs and grits at temperature and chilled dishes keep the yogurt and fresh fruit cold.
Executive Chef Chris Gollott said the new dinner menu has a seafood theme, with fresh Gulf shrimp, fish, crab and oysters. The Shuckers Platter, named for the home team, is a trio of grilled oysters and Eggplant Josephine, which recalls the most famous dish on Biloxi restaurant White Pillars' menu. Po-boys are offered at lunch, and Gollott brought back brought back Lighthouse Salad with sauteed shrimp and crab. He makes the gumbo, soup of the day, salad dressings, sauces and desserts in house.
"We actually use the cookie in one of our desserts," he said. Inspired by the way Biloxi artist George Ohr used layers and colors in his pottery, the dessert layers caramel, chocolate, cookie and ice cream.
All 195 guest rooms got makeovers -- new carpet and bathroom tile, new bedding and linens. At 10 stories, "we're still the largest non-casino hotel from here to Jackson," Glavan said.
Many changes add to convenience, such as the reading lights on both sides of the beds, a makeup lamp in the bathrooms, a clock radio that accommodates an MP3 player, new refrigerators and microwaves and in-room two-cup coffee pots.
A 12-person hot tub and a swimming pool with waterfall features are just off the restaurant and lobby, providing dining and lounging inside or out. Whether local or in town for business, golf or Mardi Gras, guests will appreciate the new DoubleTree, Glavan said.