posted January 15, 2002

Haworth Center Marks Five Years With Open House

The Haworth Inn and Conference Center at Hope College is celebrating its fifth anniversary with an event that matches the hotel's philosophy since the beginning: an open house for the college and Holland communities alike.

The open house will be held on Thursday, Jan. 17, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the "pre-function" area just inside the main floor lobby of the hotel, which opened in 1997. The event will include tours, cake and refreshments, and a power point presentation chronicling the building's construction, staff and events from the past five years.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The Haworth Center faces College Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets. The location and direction are important both practically and symbolically given the building's role as a link between the main Hope campus and downtown Holland immediately to the north.

"That was the intent even from the onset--to provide something that the college and the community could use," said Chuck Melchiori, who helped plan the facility and is vice president of operations with Creative Dining Services of Zeeland, which manages the Haworth Center. "The arms of the building reach out to embrace both the college and the community."

"It's fulfilled that vision, linking the two," agreed the facility's general manager, Sandy Harmon. "It's used by the community, it's used by businesses, and for social functions. The college hosts conferences here. People's relatives stay here..."

College events at the center have ranged from the annual Winter Happening (this year scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2), to class reunions, to academic conferences, to the "Presidential Ball" during Homecoming. Community use has ranged from simply booking one of the guest rooms, to wedding receptions, to corporate meetings and training.

Guests often take advantage of the center's proximity to college and downtown alike. Melchiori noted, for example, that prospective Hope students and their families staying at the center while visiting the college often make downtown one of their destinations as well.

The Haworth Center's corporate clients include USF Holland, which this past year has conducted its region-wide corporate training at the center, running 20 week-long sessions for a total of nearly 400 supervisors and managers during 2001.

"The people here treat us like family and show us that our business is important to them," said Brian M. Ludera, who is director of training and development with USF Holland. "It's the friendliness of every employee."

While he emphasized that glitches are rare, Ludera noted that the staff's responsiveness has earned the center itself a place in the company's training, as an example of a positive customer service model.

The building is named in recognition of a combined corporate-family donation to Hope College by Haworth Inc. and the Haworth family. The Haworth Center has 50 hotel rooms, each featuring work stations and computer connections. The meeting and banquet facilities total approximately 10,000 square feet and can accommodate groups of up to 400 people.

Site preparation for the center, including the moving of several college-owned houses to elsewhere on campus, began in May of 1995 and ground was broken in August of 1995. The building opened with a ribbon-cutting on Jan. 21, 1997, and was dedicated on May 21 of that year.