Turmoil at The Skirvin?
On Friday I shared with readers my visit with Roseann Grippo, the new general manager at the Skirvin Hotel. She was hired two months ago. One day after my visit, her tenure with the Skirvin and its owner, Milwaukee-based Marcus Hotels & Resorts, came to an end.
Clearly, this departure was not something planned by Grippo. While visiting with me, she excitedly shared her hopes of an ambitious upgrade of the hotel (most hotels switch out furniture and do overhauls every few years). She hoped to better utilize the Park Avenue sidewalk, extending the Park Avenue Grill outside. She wanted to redo the furnishings. She also wanted to patch up relations with local convention and lodging officials that had grown strained under the prior hotel leadership.
She was going to introduce more Christmas traditions, including a far more ambitious holiday lighting of the hotel’s exterior.
Does this sound like someone who was planning on leaving the next day?
A representative for Marcus from the Wisconsin office explained to me that Brett Sundstrom, most recently manager of the Grand Geneva in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, has traveled to Oklahoma City to assume interim management at the Skirvin until a new manager is chosen. Sundstrom was also, at one point attached to the Doubletree Hotel at Warren Place in Tulsa, and is a graduate of the hotel studies program at OSU.
No explanation is being offered for Grippo’s sudden departure.
This change follows the departure of Bill Otto in 2011 as president of Marcus Hotels. Otto was seen locally as the key representative of the company in negotiations with the city during redevelopment of the long-abandoned Skirvin before it reopened in 20007. Litigation, meanwhile, continues between Marcus Hotels and co-owner Partners in Development with a trial pending over a tax dispute involving the hotel’s operations.
Oklahoma City taxpayers have millions invested in the Skirvin, which is also widely considered one of the city’s most treasured historic buildings. Have no doubt, turmoil at the Skirvin will draw close attention from civic leaders and City Hall.