When the Hilton Milwaukee City Center Hotel was identified as the “headquarters hotel” for Milwaukee’s convention center, the necessary expansion offered the opportunity to bring new attractions downtown. In addition to the April – November conference season, the hotel planners wanted to create a destination that would bring families and tourists to the city in the winter months, as well as on weekends and holidays.
Kahler Slater’s challenge: to create a seamless addition to the original historic building, adding 175 guestrooms and suites. The original building used the first five floors for public space and meeting spaces. What to do in the new tower? Create a water park, of course. This novelty brings families to Milwaukee from throughout the Midwest who need an affordable, fun getaway in the dead of winter. And this attraction helps the hotel keep its occupancy and rates up during an otherwise slow time of the year. The transformed experience of the expanded hotel includes improvements for the hotel staff as well. While the new tower was being built, the back-of-house areas in the original building were also remodeled. These improvements include an enlarged employee cafeteria to respond to the general manager’s philosophy that a happy, well-fed staff creates happy hotel guests.