Several San Antonio hotels incorporate the River Walk in their name, but the famed walkway apparently isn’t big enough for them all.
The latest to join the list, Riverwalk Suites, has managed to irk the owner of the nearby Riverwalk Plaza Hotel & Suites — a city mainstay for nearly 20 years.
The monikers are too much alike and have caused confusion among its guests and cabbies, Riverwalk Plaza officials complain in a lawsuit filed Friday. They say they’re losing business as a result.
Ironically, Riverwalk Suites isn’t even on the River Walk. The hotel at 524 S. St. Mary’s St. previously did business as a Four Points by Sheraton.
Riverwalk Plaza is at 100 Villita St., across from the Bexar County Courthouse and along the San Antonio River — though the hotel doesn’t have access to the River Walk.
The same day that Riverwalk Plaza’s owner filed suit, Bexar County District Judge Solomon J. Casseb III issued a temporary restraining order barring Riverwalk Suites from doing business by that name.
For now, the hotel building is a nameless hulk, its marquee draped in plastic. The hotel’s website, riverwalksuitessanantonio.com, simply says, “Future home of something quite cool.”
Desk clerks have started answering the phone, “Fiesta Suites,” a sign that Riverwalk Suites’ owners are capitulating to the legal pressure from Riverwalk Plaza.
Greg Friedman, CEO of Atlanta-based Peachtree Hotel Group, which owns and operates Riverwalk Suites, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
A hearing to convert the TRO to a temporary injunction was set for Wednesday morning, but Riverwalk Plaza attorney Mark Murphy said Tuesday the hearing likely would be postponed so the two sides can work to resolve the spat.
Murphy declined to discuss the case.
Riverwalk Plaza is owned by La Villita Motor Inns J.V., which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 following a dispute with its mortgage servicer. Around the same time, the hotel ran afoul of the city by painting its south wall a bright green. It was directed to repaint the wall.
The hotel owner is suing Riverwalk Suites’ owner for trademark infringement and unfair competition. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
In an affidavit filed with the lawsuit, Irfan Valla, Riverwalk Plaza’s director of operations, reported a drop in gross room revenue in recent weeks as the hotel heads into March and its peak season.
“The pre-bookings from year-over-year comparison are significantly lower than what we would expect,” Valla said. “It will cause irreparable harm to (Riverwalk Plaza) and adversely affect bookings for our busiest month and peak season if Defendants’ conduct is allowed to continue.”
The two hotels’ owners have a history.
Valla said Riverwalk Plaza’s owner considered selling the hotel last year and hired a broker to handle inquiries from potential buyers.
Among those to take a look at the property was a Peachtree Hotel Group company. It had access to the La Villita Motor Inns’ financials, occupancy rates, marketing information, pricing data and other materials, Valla said.
Valla contends the Peachtree company has “unlawfully” used the confidential information and interfered with La Villita Motor Inns’ business. He accuses the Peachtree company of copying Riverwalk Plaza’s “names, logo (and) business model.”