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MUSCATINE — Open just more than a year, the Merrill Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Muscatine has been named the No. 1 hotel in Iowa by U.S. News and World Report.

The outlet released its 2019 Best Hotels list earlier this year, with the Merrill among the ranks.

"It's a great amenity," said Jodi Hansen, director of the Muscatine Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's a beautiful hotel overlooking our amazing riverfront."

Rebecca Howe, president of Riverview Hotel Development LLC, which owns the Merrill, was also very pleased. 

"Having opened just one year ago, this esteemed recognition spotlights the hotel’s exceptional setting, sophisticated amenities, and the outstanding customer service our hospitality professionals deliver to our guests each day," Howe said in a news release. "This attention to detail truly sets our hotel and conference center apart."

The boutique hotel, located at 119 W. Mississippi Drive, was named after Stanley Merrill Howe, HON Industries chairman and CEO. A full list of the rankings is available online at travel.usnews.com/hotels.

So far, the conference center on the sixth floor has been the site of many events, including the Iowa Business Council "Vision to Vitality" Forum and recently the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry's annual meeting.

Along with 16 meeting rooms and the grand ballroom making up the conference center, the building features 122 guest rooms and suites, a saltwater pool, lounge, fitness center and Maxwell's, a full-service restaurant. It also has a walk-out terrace from the ballroom on the top floor.

Hansen said Muscatine has "amazing venues" for events, and the capacity at the Merrill has been a driver for the larger events held there.

The $42 million, four-star hotel also holds the AAA Four Diamond rating and International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) accreditation — the only hotel in Iowa with those distinctions.

According to the news release, more than 300,000 luxury properties in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean were evaluated to generate the list. Opinions of guests and experts were used to rank the properties.

The hotel was funded by the Howe Investment Fund, MHI Fund and Kent Corporation as well as private investors including Chinese real estate developers Glad Cheng and Daniel Wang of China Window and Global Center Group.

For more information on the Merrill Hotel and Conference Center, visit its website.

With the No. 1 designation, increased recognition and accreditation as a prestigious conference venue, the hotel may continue to be the site of many more events, bringing more people and money into Muscatine.

"We hope that we will see future economic impact on businesses in Muscatine," Hansen said.

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