Matt Cowden was a happy man last week. As general manager of downtown's Sheraton Hotel he has grown accustomed to seeing his competitors get the spotlight — but this time his hotel was the center of attention.
Despite spending millions on renovations at the 35-year-old hotel, community focus before last week was more likely to shift to either the historic Skirvin Hilton, the equally historic and upscale Colcord Hotel, or the modern Renaissance Hotel.
And when it came time for guessing which downtown hotel would host President Barack Obama last week, most observers assumed the Skirvin would resume its historic bragging rights as the preferred lodging for our nation's leaders when they stayed the night in Oklahoma City. And if not the Skirvin, certainly the Colcord or the Renaissance hotels would be next on the list for such an esteemed guest.
But it was Cowden who stood at his hotel's entrance, beaming even as he was forbidden — at the moment — from verifying that his guest list included anyone more powerful than the forward-center with the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.
A variety of reasons led to the Sheraton hosting Obama. For the Colcord, a presidential visit would have bestowed an aura of legitimacy to its effort to establish itself as downtown's finest boutique hotel.
But with the ground floor a construction zone and surrounding streets torn up as part of Project 180, the Colcord was struck off the list by the president's advance team.