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Ready for a facelift

It was around this time last year that we began to see a noticeable increase in the number of hotels finally hitting the ‘start’ button on their planned renovations. While a great many of these projects were small in scope, often including just soft goods or focused on one portion of the property, it was a healthy sign of the industry’s impending recovery and it was only a matter of time before minor cosmetic work gave way to the full-scale property overhauls that were common place several years ago.

Now, as we start 2012, not only are certain hotels putting the finishing touches on their long-awaited makeovers, but the list of properties launching major upgrades seems to be growing daily. Whether owners are looking to adhere to new brand standards, switch flags via a conversion, or simply revive tired product, it’s clear that renovations are back—and in a big way.

The cover story of this, Hotel Business DESIGN’s annual Renovation Issue, takes a look at the iconic Grand Hyatt New York, which recently unveiled the results of a staggering $130 million renovation project. Situated atop Grand Central Station, the new interiors of the hotel are the work of not one, but three different design firms. Each applied their expertise to different portions of the property and their combined efforts have culminated in the creation of a space that is sleek, dramatic and certainly befitting of its landmark location in Manhattan.

This issue also takes a look at a number of other spectacular renovations including Los Angeles’ Hotel Bel-Air. Once again a case of two firms being better than one, both Champalimaud and Rockwell Group were tapped by the Dorchester Group to handle the $100 million project. Blending historic touches together with modern elements, the new face of the Bel-Air is one of lush, urban opulence. Meanwhile in Chicago, Hotel 71’s refreshed contemporary design includes the addition of a new restaurant in an effort to help to the hotel better capitalize on its Michigan Ave. location. And in McLean, VA, a stone’s throw from Hilton Worldwide’s headquarters, the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner is showcasing the results of a renovation that will serve as a model for the next generation of the brand.

A crucial component of any renovation is FF&E and the last several years have seen marked pricing increases in multiple categories. Inside, we feature the latest installment of data from Purchasing Management International’s Pricing Index. Although overall, FF&E costs are not predicted to rise as sharply this year as they did in 2011, the growing volume of projects will likely pose new challenges to suppliers that lack significant inventory and result in longer lead times and higher costs. Those owners still putting off necessary improvements may actually find themselves paying more when they finally begin projects and knowing how to bid correctly may mean the difference between a renovation penciling out or not. 

Hotels’ fresh, new designs are a welcome sight after a challenging last few years and signify the industry finally cycling upward again and there will certainly be more to come. So here’s to a 2012 that is full of creativity, innovation and prosperity.