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After playing host to guests ranging from President Barack Obama to Quad-City newlyweds, the restored Hotel Blackhawk is finding itself in more good company as it prepares to join the Marriott Autograph Collection of luxury hotels.

Beginning March 6, the downtown Davenport landmark will operate under the new flag. As part of the Autograph Collection, it will join an exclusive group of hotel properties such as the Algonquin Hotel in New York City’s Times Square and the Blue Moon Hotel in Miami’s South Beach.

“This is like going from the minors to the majors,” said Amy Gill of Restoration St. Louis.

Gill offered up another baseball comparison: “Short of a call-up to play centerfield for the St. Louis Cardinals, an invitation to move the Hotel Blackhawk into the company of some of the world’s most interesting hotels is the most exciting thing I can imagine.”

Gill said the 20-year contract with Marriott puts the historic hotel on a short list of well-run luxury hotels and gives it access to Marriott’s worldwide marketing network. “This puts us in the same group as the famous golf resort, Turnberry Isle in (Miami) Florida,” she said.

Owned and operated by Restoration St. Louis, the Blackhawk has been one of the Preferred Group’s Summit Hotels since it opened in 2010.

Tim Heim, the hotel’s general manager, said the Autograph Collection includes about 30 exclusive hotels in North America and Europe. The Autograph Collection flag “gives the opportunity for all the hotels to still have their independency.”

“It’s more of a partnership because we have access to all the Marriott reward programs and standards,” Heim said. “The team is very excited by all the different resources and tools this will bring them.”

After the flag switch in March, the hotel will officially be known as the Hotel Blackhawk, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel. Gill said some signage will be added to denote the change.

Marriott representatives are at the Blackhawk this week conducting training with staff and will return in February, she said. “It’s all about making sure we meet their requirements for service levels, which we already do.”

Gill said the fact that Marriott approached the Blackhawk about the change “says a lot about how we’re running the hotel and how unique of a destination it is.”

For guests, one of the advantages will be their ability to book through the Blackhawk or Marriott. “If they are Marriott rewards customers they will get these here too,” she said. “For the business traveler it’s a boon, they will get points for staying with us.”

Gill said the Blackhawk is Restoration St. Louis’ first hotel to join the Autograph Collection.

The hotel was constructed in 1915 for the then-exorbitant sum of $1 million. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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