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Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Niagara Falls gets a new brand

The owner and operator of the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Niagara Falls is rebranding and expanding the 140-room hotel along the banks of the Upper Niagara River as the Niagara Riverside Resort.

Merani Hotel Group said Monday that the renamed hotel will become part of the Best Western Premier Collection starting on Tuesday, linking it with the world's seventh-largest hotel chain, with almost 4,200 hotels around the world. It will be available through the Best Western reservations system, although it will be an independent hotel without the Best Western name.

"Best Western really was looking to get a foothold in the marketplace," said Michael Marsch, Merani's vice president of operations. "Their brand is really highly focused on leisure travel throughout the world. From that perspective, it was a really good fit."

The Four Points hotel already includes an indoor pool, the Bella Vista Ristorante with a riverfront patio, ballrooms for up to 300 guests, and waterfront views. And Merani previously renovated it in 2015.

But now the company plans additional changes - in part based on what officials saw at other resorts like Hart Hotels' Harbor Hotels. Marsch said it's finishing up a $1 million upgrade over the last 18 months of "interior soft goods," such as wall coverings and carpeting in all the guest rooms. It also has to change televisions and some other "minor things" throughout the interior and exterior, to comply with Best Western standards.

And Marsch said Merani wants to add an outdoor pool, firepits and an outdoor gazebo and pavilion for weddings, as well as boat slips and possibly a jetty to reduce the current near shore. Merani also owns rental properties on either side of the hotel, which Marsch said could be converted "down the road" into small cottages, as well as basketball or tennis courts.

All told, "it's going to be pretty significant," Marsch said, citing a multi-million-dollar investment.

"Our goal is to create a very unique resort, since it is on the banks of the Niagara River," Marsch said. "We’re trying to make our presence known, not only for the tourists, but also the locals and the boating community."

Merani, a privately held company owned by Faisal Merani, is a hospitality firm that operates five hotels, restaurants and retail outlets on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border in Niagara Falls. Besides the Four Points, it also owns the 189-room Holiday Inn Hotel and the new 192-room DoubleTree by Hilton – both on Buffalo Avenue – on the New York side, as well as the 155-room Days Inn and 41-room Sterling Inn & Spa on the Ontario side.

Two additional projects are under development, including an 83-room Holiday Inn Express in a five-story building on Buffalo Avenue, across from the DoubleTree. That will be constructed alongside a new 36-unit, five-story apartment building that also includes a Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop and a Circle K convenience store. The $22.5 million project, located on a 3-acre former brownfield that once housed Nabisco Shredded Wheat's corporate offices, received tax breaks from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency last year.

Merani also acquired a building on Clifton Hill on the Canadian side that it will convert into a 41-room AirBnB.

DoubleTree owners plan Holiday Inn Express in downtown Niagara Falls

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