Despite Nacogdoches Chamber award, Hotel Fredonia faces challenges

Despite Nacogdoches Chamber award, Hotel Fredonia faces challenges

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - For over 55 years, Hotel Fredonia in Nacogdoches has relied on community support and patrons.

On Tuesday, the full-service hotel will be awarded the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce large business of the year. However, in recent interview, the hotel's owner was both grateful and candid about challenges the hotel is facing.

Hotel Fredonia is often called a mecca, according to Susan Pack Reents, the owner.

"It's a little mecca that a lot of people don't expect to find in a town of 30,000," Reents said.

The full-service hotel employs up to 100 workers, but they prefer being known as "one big family," Reents said. Like with any family, there are celebrations and disappointments. That has been Hotel Fredonia's story since 1955. Founder Jack McKinney led the effort to establish a community-owned hotel. Today Reents has private ownership, but community support remains a lifeline.

Reents said that she does have investors, and their belief in the Nacogdoches community is the reason they invest in Hotel Fredonia. Reents has owned Hotel Fredonia for only four years, and the time has been good. However, disappointments happened this year. The recently opened Nacogdoches County Civic Center is eating into Fredonia's once reliable bookings.

"It has hurt us tremendously -- at least $700,000 that I can measure conservatively," Reents said.

Reents says she's bidding on an uneven playing field.

"We're not competitive when they've got money coming in from taxpayers that helps run your facility, cut down on all your costs because you got that money coming in," she said.

Reents knows that it's part of doing business, and she accepts it. Hotel Fredonia is increasing marketing efforts in metropolitan cities while continuing to serve the locals. One example of this is the table in the hotel's award-winning restaurant that is reserved for two women who now make the hotel their home thanks to Reents' offer of transitional living.

One hotel tenant said, "We simply enjoy it."

An eye for detail is what makes a Hotel Fredonia stay or function memorable.

"In fact we just got a review that said she felt like Frank Sinatra was going to walk in the door, and that's what we want," Reents said. "We want the music playing when they arrive. We want pretty, the guest services, and making people feel like they are back in the times when people really took care of people."

And Reents wants to continue serving guests, hopefully with the community's support.

"We've come over some hurdles and we're moving forward," Reents said. "It's great."

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