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Fargo's Ramada preps for big changes as it converts to Delta by Marriott

A rendering of what the new bar will look like in Delta by Marriott Fargo after a renovation and conversion from its current operaton as a Ramada Plaza & Suites at 1635 42nd St. S. in Fargo. National Hospitality Services / Special to The Forum1 / 3
Fargo's Ramada Plaza & Suites hotel, 1635 42nd St. S., will undergo several changes, including a renovation of the Crystal Ballroom as seen in this rendering, as part of its conversion to a Delta by Marriott hotel. National Hospitality Services / Special to The Forum2 / 3
Ramada Plaza & Suites, 1635 42nd St. S., Fargo.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor3 / 3

FARGO—After 20 years in business, Fargo's Ramada Plaza & Suites will soon switch to the Marriott brand.

But the conversion will require more than new signs at the hotel, 1635 42nd St. S., and everything from the restaurant to the amenities in guest rooms will be upgraded or revamped by the time the switch to Delta by Marriott Fargo is completed in late March or early April.

"It's about as big a change as a hotel can really undergo," said Norman Leslie, president of Fargo-based hotel management company National Hospitality Services that now manages the Ramada and will continue to manage the new Delta by Marriott.

The change has been in the works for the past couple years, according to Leslie, and some of the work has already begun.

The exterior was recently repainted and a makeover of the pool and water park is wrapping up now.

The hotel's largest events space, the Crystal Ballroom, is being updated now, he said, and other ballrooms also will get upgrades.

Carol Johnson, the hotel's general manager, said the work is being staged to not disturb guests or disrupt planned events at the facility.

"That's one of the things we've been very, very careful of," she said. "It's almost like taking a 1,000-piece puzzle and piecing it together."

'Fresh air'

The hotel's fitness center will more than double in size and get new equipment selected by fitness experts, Leslie said, and Basies Restaurant and Lounge will get a new look, concept and menu after it's closed for 30 to 40 days for renovations. More information about the replacement to Basies will be announced early next year.

But much of the change in the coming months will play out in less dramatic ways than major construction projects, especially the Delta by Marriott's focus on being an "experiential brand" that offers modern amenities for the modern traveler.

Johnson said that means guests can expect different seating areas in the lobby and a revamped lobby bar with a connected Starbucks and grab-and-go cafe, as well as more outlets and USB ports in rooms and a new restaurant with a revamped menu.

"It's very exciting because it offers something no matter what age or who you are," she said.

Leslie said about a third of the guest rooms will be completely redone, and the suites will replace tubs with showers. Other room amenities will change, too, including upgraded mattresses and bedding.

It will be the first Delta hotel in the region, and Leslie said more will pop up throughout the United States over the next three years after Marriott acquired the Canadian brand in 2015.

He said the move gave Marriott a conversion brand, similar to Hilton's DoubleTree brand, and will help the company see big growth in the coming years.

The switch to Marriott also will give the Fargo hotel access to the company's corporate accounts throughout the country, Leslie said, not to mention Marriott's rewards program.

But the main motive for the brand change is to respond to what clients have asked for at the Ramada, he said, and bring modern features to the hotel that opened in 1996.

"We think it's going to be a breath of fresh air," Leslie said.

"It's going to enhance everything that the guests want," Johnson added.