Portofino: Good news for planning events

Published 8:40 pm Saturday, February 4, 2017

News the Portofino Hotel is close to reopening is creating a buzz among meeting planners that could prove to be a boon for the Vicksburg Convention Center in the future, the center’s director Annette Kirklin said.

“I’m beyond excited,” she said. “The word on the street (about the hotel’s plans) is getting out to the meeting planners. They’re getting excited, and perspective media planners are hearing about it, too, so it’s put another vibe in the air, because there was a bad vibe before, because it closed down. I’m very elated.”

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Officials with Vicksburg Hotel LLC, owner of the Portofino Hotel, said they expected some time this month to announce plans for the hotel, which has been closed since July 2015.

Company officials, however, would not discuss what was planned for the hotel, although Vicksburg Hotels representative Greg Stewart said in late January plans did not include a casino.

Kirklin said she has talked with Stewart, “And the only thing I can officially tell anyone is late spring, early summer,” as far as the projected opening.

She said having a hotel close to the convention center will be a big advantage in booking conventions and meetings.

“We have a lot of great hotels in Vicksburg, and they have gone above and beyond,” she said. However, she added, “The A No.1 reason we don’t get (more conventions and meetings) is the hotel situation. There is no other way to explain it. Planners will tell you that.”

Portofino closed its doors July 21, 2015, and remained closed.

At the time, the closing affected 33 events planned for the Vicksburg Convention Center, forcing convention center officials to work with event planners to book new hotels for the participants.

When he announced the hotel’s closure, Stewart said he expected it to be closed for about seven months while renovations and repairs were performed on the building.

About a year later, no visible work had been done on the property. That situation, Kirklin said, has changed.

“I have seen they have been down there working,” Kirklin said. “They were there a couple of days this week, and they were here a bunch (of days) right before the holidays; they were down the hill working and clearing out stuff. So I have seen some sort of progress.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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