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South Sioux City Marriott boasts new amenities, chic design
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South Sioux City Marriott boasts new amenities, chic design

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SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- John Gleeson is proud of his newly minted Marriott Hotel, and it shows when he talks about it. 

The 181-room, South Sioux City hotel on Nov. 13 officially became a Marriott, the flagship brand of Marriott International, after a year of renovations to the riverfront property.

Gleeson has always taken a great personal interest in the hotel, which is now flying its third flag in four years.

[Read more: Intimate elegance on the menu at reopened Kahill's Chophouse.]

"I've always described this as my hobby," said Gleeson, president and CEO of Sioux City-based Klinger Companies, a family of contracting firms.

In 2017, the former Marina Inn was converted to a Marriott property, with its name changed to a Delta by Marriott

Marriott South Sioux City

The Marriott Hotel, formerly known as a Delta Hotel by Marriott and the Marina Inn before that, is shown in South Sioux City. 

The Marriott chain operates 19 brands, including luxury, upscale, extended stay, and limited service brands.

The South Sioux City hotel is the first Marriott in the metro area. A lot of money went into converting the property to the luxury brand. Gleeson won't say exactly how much but acknowledged it was several million dollars.

It seems the guests are also impressed by the place. Gleeson described a guest from Atlanta, a frequent traveler, recently approached him to let him know the South Sioux City property "is one of the nicest hotels" he'd ever stayed in. 

"'It shows that there's a personal interest by the ownership in the property,'" the out-of-town guest told Gleeson. 

Guest rooms and suites, ballrooms and meeting rooms and the hotel's restaurant, Kahill's Chophouse, all underwent extensive renovations. A Starbucks was added near the front desk.

The project contractor, as one might expect, was Klinger -- Gleeson joked his company was the "low bidder."

The hotel interior is about as chic and stylish as they come; everything from the carpet to the light fixtures to the furniture and the decor are bright, new and fashionable. A large amount of retired, but still usable, furniture from the hotel was given to charities during the remodel. 

Between the conversion to a Delta by Marriott and the later conversion to a Marriott, there isn't a single element of the old Marina Inn that remains. Most everything at the hotel has been upgraded -- the guest internet is more powerful, the bedsheets boast higher thread counts and even the complimentary soaps and shampoos are higher-grade. 

John Gleeson and Ralph Bobian

Marriott Hotel general manager Ralph Bobian, left, is shown with owner John Gleeson in front of the South Sioux City property. 

"There is probably, literally, from one end of the property to the other, not an area that hasn't been totally renovated in the past three years," Gleeson said. 

Certain, elite guests -- those who stay at Marriott frequently -- get access to the new, exclusive M-Club, which offers breakfasts during the week, snacks throughout the day, lounge space and other amenities. 

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Jerry's Pizza
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Jerry's Pizza
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Marto Brewing
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Marto Brewing
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Bootleggers

Gleeson's father, Robert, came into possession of the hotel in August 1972 after the original owners went bankrupt a few years after it opened. 

"It was initially built in 1969, and we were the contractor on the project," Gleeson said. "It was initially developed by South Sioux City business people. They went into bankruptcy and they never paid us. So then my father bought it on the county courthouse steps." 

"Even the silverware hadn't been paid for, and my father paid everybody 100 cents on the dollar," he said.

The family leased the hotel, which also operated as a Best Western for a period, to third parties until 1985, when they re-took control of operations. 

John Gleeson and Ralph Bobian

Owner John Gleeson, left, and general manager Ralph Bobian are shown Thursday in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in South Sioux City. The hotel, which has been in Gleeson's family since 1972, was officially converted this month to a Marriott, the flagship brand of Marriott International. 

"Since 1985, I've personally expanded it, renovated it constantly," Gleeson said. "Just completed the latest renovations in the past month." 

Three years ago, Gleeson's request to join the luxury Marriott hotel chain was approved; the Marina Inn subsequently became a Delta by Marriott hotel.

This move was, in part, in response to challenging market conditions for independently owned hotels.

"Being an independent property, in a market like Sioux City or anywhere probably nationally, is increasingly tough, because the power of the internet, with the websites of Marriott or Hilton, the two most powerful ones -- they are driving your hotel guests," he said. 

Not long thereafter -- in 2018 -- Gleeson and the team asked Marriott if the hotel could become a Marriott franchisee, the first of its kind in Sioux City metro.