Laid-back lobbies and local flair add comfort for business travelers.
Sponsored by: Kalahari Resorts
New and renovated hotels are always a testament of the times, and luckily for planners, the recovery of the hotel industry sparked several openings and renovation projects in recent years.
To accommodate the needs of the businessperson on the go, hotels are creating more relaxed social spaces and incorporating the local culture into their design. "Today's business travelers are looking for a non-officetype environment where they can quickly settle into a comfy chair, hop on Wi-Fi and be inspired by a creative surrounding,” says Niki Leondakis, president and COO of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “Kimpton lobbies are designed to look and feel like living rooms and they’re the heart of our hotels.”
Integrating local culture also appeases travelers who don’t get a lot of time to venture off-site. In April, the 1,260-room Hyatt Regency Atlanta wrapped up a $65 million renovation, which added the Southern-inspired Sway restaurant so guests can experience traditional shrimp and grits onsite without having to rush back for a meeting.
Keeping these needs for comfort and local color in mind, properties are updating their hotel experiences to provide a home away from home for groups.
Omni Dallas Hotel
Owned by the city of Dallas, the 1,001- room Omni Dallas Hotel opened on Nov. 11, 2011 and helped jump-start the revitalization of the downtown core. Connected via skywalk to the Dallas Convention Center, it has attracted 55 citywide meetings and conventions since plans for the hotel were announced in May 2009; during the two years prior to the announcement, the city only attracted 18. The history and culture of Dallas are brought to life in the property’s 110,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space. Each of the 39 meeting rooms is named after a city hotspot and features works by local artists. On May 15, the property received LEED Gold certification for new construction; it’s the first and only LEED Gold hotel in Texas.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
Opened on Jan. 19, The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is minutes from Miami’s energetic South Beach and offers heightened lavishness in a beachside retreat. It has 243 guest rooms, each with floor-to-ceiling views of the ocean, and 11,400 sq. ft. Of meeting space. Chef Jean- George Vongerichten’s J&G Grill brings the best of the ocean to the table, with locally sourced entrees such as stone crab claws and Florida pink shrimp.
The Saguaro Palm Springs
Opened in February, The Saguaro Palm Springs takes color to a whole new level, with a vibrant palette inspired by native flowers from the Sonoran Desert in California. The 249-room property’s 12 different tones brighten both the interior and exterior of the building, while handcrafted furniture from Mexico helps create a Southwestern vibe. The 3,039-square-foot Sago Palm Ballroom has a 1960s retro design, with windows overlooking the Jacinto lawn, which also can be used for a reception for up to 250.
Conrad New York
Rising 16 stories above New York’s lively Battery Park City neighborhood, the 463-room Conrad New York opened on March 19 as the brand’s first hotel in the city. The property is known for its contemporary art with 2,000 pieces throughout, including Loopy Doopy (Blue and Purple), a 14-story-high Sol LeWitt mural hanging above the lobby. (It took 100 gallons of paint and 3,000 hours to finish.) For meetings, the lower Manhattan location has 30,000 sq. ft. Of flexible space. Plus, its rooftop bar, appropriately named Loopy Doopy, features 180-degree views of New York Harbor and the Hudson River, and a green roof with a garden of fresh herbs and vegetables situated directly above it. The garden is just one of several green initiatives that contribute to the property’s pursuit of LEED Gold certification for new construction.
Inspired by Paul Revere—even opening on April 18, the date he made his famed ride in 1775—Boston’s Revere Hotel off ers a completely new design. The property’s 356 guest rooms have a neutral palette heightened by splashes of color and incorporate three distinct areas for sleep, work and lounge. Five meeting rooms make up the hotel’s 35,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space. One example is the Gallery, with the allure of an urban loft, complete with brick walls and off beat artwork. The lively Emerald Lounge offers another 6,000 sq. ft.
The much-anticipated $2.4 billion Revel in Atlantic City, N.J., finally debuted on Memorial Day weekend after an eight-week preview. Pop star Beyonce’s return to the stage was only part of the over-the-top celebration, which also included the Revel Food Walk and the Revelry $250,000 Slot Play Giveaway. The lobby welcomes guests at 114 feet above sea level, with an innovative setup on almost two acres of mostly outdoor space highlighted by the SkyGarden and InOut Pool, which fittingly begins inside and ventures out. With more than 160,000 sq. ft. Of flexible meeting space, the 1,898-room megaresort spans 6.3 million sq. ft.
Following a multimillion-dollar remodel, the 170- room Hotel Paradox made its debut this June in Santa Cruz, Calif. The boutique hotel (part of the BPR Properties’ hotel group) was formerly the University Inn & Conference Center, but San Francisco- based designer David Oldroyd redesigned the property to integrate natural elements. The front desk is made from the wood of a reclaimed eucalyptus tree. The property’s 8,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space incorporates redwood-inspired names and features raised ceilings, new lighting and a landscape that reflects the local environment.
Hotel Palomar Phoenix
The final part of the $500 million, six-year CityScape development project in Phoenix was completed on June 5 with the opening of Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix. Set in the heart of downtown, the 242-room property is designed with an Arizona desert-inspired color palette. Accents of orange enhance the hotel’s “art in motion” theme. The third-floor terrace lures guests with its swimming pool and Lustre Bar, which showcase views of the city below. The property’s 10,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space also encompasses the outdoors, with expansive windows providing natural light and inspiring mountain views.
Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort and Spa
Opening this month, the 215-room Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort and Spa takes full advantage of its location on the Southern California coast, with gorgeous ocean vistas and an easy walking distance from South Carlsbad state beaches. Even the design draws inspiration from the water, with wood highlighted by shades of nickel made to look like the ocean. The onsite Chandler’s Restaurant & Lounge serves up local fare, and has a covered terrace overlooking the water that can accommodate up to 40 guests. More than 25,000 sq. ft. Of indoor and outdoor meeting space is available.
Hyatt Regency New Orleans
After damages as a result of Hurricane Katrina, the Hyatt Regency New Orleans underwent a massive $275 million renovation that debuted last fall. The 1,193-room property is essentially completely new—even the front door is in a different location—with more than 200,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space. With the hotel’s location in the heart of downtown adjacent to the New Orleans Superdome and New Orleans Arena, the reopening has helped promote a resurgence of the downtown corridor.
On Oct. 14, 2011, the iconic Hotel Bel-Air reopened after two years of closure. The salmon-pink property underwent an extensive renovation and expansion that added 15 new guest rooms (bringing the total to 110) and a 4,000-square-foot spa. The onsite Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air features an outdoor patio that has hosted the likes of Oprah and other Hollywood glitterati. A private dining room surrounded by 2,400 bottles of wine can seat 14 people; groups can also gather in the hotel’s 12,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space.
Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle
Opened four years ago, the now 153- room Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle is already making changes. In December, it underwent a transformation, turning 14 of its guest rooms into seven one-bedroom suites. Reflecting its Northwestern environment, the rooms are accented with custom wood paneling. For example, the Space Needle Corner Suites feature sliding wall panels that look like distressed driftwood. Up to 200 people can meet in the property’s meeting space.
Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center
Earlier this spring, the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla., revealed a $50 million renovation, which included updates to the 1,406 guest rooms and the addition of a new adults-only pool and expansive outdoor Coquina Lawn. Groups can get a taste of Florida in the 4. 5-acre climate-controlled indoor garden, which features three Florida-inspired settings: the Everglades, Key West and St. Augustine. The property offers 400,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space to groups.
St. Regis Aspen Resort
After a $40 million renovation, the 179-room St. Regis Aspen Resort officially reopened in November 2011 with 20 remodeled rooms and updates to its restaurant and event space. The enhancement also included a revamped entryway, as well as a new front desk and grand staircase connecting the lobby to the lower-level ballrooms. By using ornamental steel and glass, the new design brings the property’s initial look of a late-1800s mountain manor back to life. For groups, more than 20,000 sq. ft. Of indoor and outdoor space is available.
Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center
Located in Pomona, Calif., the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center shelled out $28 million to add the 85,000-square-foot L.A. Conference Center to its existing 11,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space. Opened on March 14, the center features seminar rooms and breakout rooms. The 247- room hotel is also located within the 543-acre Fairplex Exposition Complex, which has an additional 300,000 sq. ft. Of space within walking distance.
Golden Nugget Atlantic City
In late April, the 740-room Golden Nugget Atlantic City had its grand opening in New Jersey after completing a $150 million makeover. Third Eye Blind and Whoopi Goldberg were just a couple of the entertainment acts booked to help guests celebrate the new digs. The former Trump Marina Hotel Casino now offers new signature restaurants, a salon and spa, and a newly renovated ballroom. Plus, the check-in lobby features a more fashionable feel, with chandeliers, a marble desk and built-in iPads.
Makena Beach & Golf Resort
In April, the 1,800-acre Makena Beach & Golf Resort on Maui, Hawaii, debuted its renovation to the tune of $50 million. All 290 guest rooms and suites were updated, as well as the Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed golf course (with a brand-new fleet of electric golf carts), pool complex and Makena Tennis Club, and a 2,500-square-foot fitness center was added. Locavores will be impressed that the resort’s new executive chef, Marc McDowell, is also a certified Master Gardener and harvests ingredients from onsite fruit trees and gardens.
Main image: Omni Dallas Hotel
–Slated for completion this month, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa [pictured; is undergoing a S50 million renovation of its 1,566 guest rooms. The Atlandc City, NJ., megaproperty features the 2,400-seat Borgata Event Center and another 1,000-seat theater.
–Expected to open this October, the SI40 million Hilton Columbus Downtown in Ohio will feature 532 rooms. 48 suites and 22,800 sq. ft. Of meeting space.
–The $120 million expansion of California's San Jose Convention Center is slated for completion in fall 2013 and will add 125,000 sq. ft. Team San Jose CEO Bill Sherry is leading the project, following his involvement with the S1.3 billion modernization of the city's airport.
In the News
–In May, Wyndham Hotel Group.Part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, announced an agreement with Hospitality Properties Trust to brand 20 hotels with the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham names.
–Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley, Calif., celebrated 100 years in 2011. The 199-room property reopened in the fall of 2009, with 8,000 sq. ft. Of meeting space and the popular Five Restaurant.
–Owners of the 300-room Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif., purchased the Whitney Oaks Golf Club in April. The golf course is 6.3 miles from the resort and will add another element to the already diverse property. The addition follows a 2010 renovation that updated the hotel tower, parking garage, pool, spa and boutique.
–When entering the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas, guests will get a new arrival experience, with a panoramic video display wall behind the registration desk and plush sofas in the central seating area. Other new features include the High-Limit Lounge and updates to the 24-hour Mr. Luckv's Cafe.