New Heartland Lodging Option for 2018: Historic John Deere Building Turns Hotel

Posted on in Heartland

By Lathan Ehlers, VGM Marketing

Each June, VGM’s Heartland Conference showcases what Iowa hospitality is all about. And, with the conversion of a former John Deere manufacturing facility into a Courtyard by Marriott, the hospitality industry is following suit. 

The new hotel will feature 166 rooms, including double queen rooms, single kings, and presidential suites. If you’ve worked in hospitality, though, you know it’s about more than the number of rooms—it’s about the details.

Owner Rodney Blackwell certainly has an eye for those details.

“He’s taken all his experience as a traveler—both for business and with his family—and put it into the hotel,” said Kim DeGood, who will manage the hotel.

Less Noise, More Hot Water!

To that effect, two of the more common complaints among hotel guests are already being addressed. Rooms are to be exceptionally well-insulated to cut down on noise from neighboring rooms and hallways. And, each floor will have its own dedicated heating and air conditioning system and hot water heater, so there will be no waiting on hot water in the mornings.

The 180,000 square foot facility will also host a bistro operated by the hotel, an Irish pub called the Iron Horse, and an independently operated restaurant, The Black Oak Grill. The swimming pool will be housed on the sixth floor where tractors were once stored.

History Blends with Today

What’s unique about the hotel, though, is the blend of history with modern comforts. The interior brickwork, the original pillars, and large factory windows are all preserved, but the hotel will feature all the amenities Marriott guests have come to expect.

All these features, the historic and the modern, add up to Blackwell’s vision—that the property be an experience in and of itself.

“He wants the hotel to be something people come to Waterloo just to see,” DeGood said.

Improvements like the Courtyard by Marriott show that the Waterloo area, much like VGM’s Heartland Conference, gets better every year.

There’s More to Come

The hotel is scheduled to open in late November, plenty of time before Heartland’s June 19-21, 2018, dates. So, mark your calendars. You don’t want to miss out on the experiences Heartland and Waterloo have to offer. And, stay tuned for more updates on the Courtyard by Marriott and other area improvements, including upcoming renovations slated for the Five Sullivan Convention Center, host site of most of Heartland’s events, and the adjacent Ramada Hotel.