City-owned Hilton Omaha faces a more challenging financial future

The Hilton Omaha, which connects to the CenturyLink Center, has helped secure Omaha bids for major events, including the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials. It has repeatedly been designated one of the city's highest-rated hotels and was recently named one of Hilton's top hotels for service and condition.

For the 10th consecutive year, the Hilton Omaha has received a AAA four-diamond rating.

The distinction, announced Friday, comes as the 600-room, city-owned hotel in north downtown embarks on the renovation of its second-floor event and convention spaces.

Gordon Humbert, the Hilton's new general manager, said the change of carpet and furniture — from earth tones to blues and grays, and to more simple and streamlined chairs and sofas — should be done in December.

The remodel is the final piece, Humbert said, of a $37 million renovation project that also included 150 additional rooms, a new 7,000-square-foot ballroom and updated lobby and guest rooms.

The Hilton, which has received the four diamonds since it opened, is one of two Omaha properties with the status. Hotel Deco XV has earned it since 2011. Iowa has three, including Ameristar in Council Bluffs.

About 5 percent of 30,000 lodgings rated by AAA in the United States, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean have the four-diamond rating, the travel club's second-highest, said Rose White of AAA Nebraska. Maintaining that status requires renovation every five to six years.

Looking ahead, Humbert said he expects “robust” business. While he doesn't “relish” more competition, Humbert said a proposed full-service hotel near 10th Street and Capitol Avenue would be good for attracting more conventions to the city.

Competition, he said, “keeps us on our toes.”

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