2015 in Review: Noteworthy Renovations

As 2016 approaches, it is time to reflect on the most notable happenings in hospitality in 2015. There were many expertly executed renovations in the last year, from modernized lobbies to complete guestroom makeovers. Here is just a taste of some of the boldest and most unique hotel transformations that took place in 2015:

Hotel Zephyr: The 361-room Hotel Zephyr made its debut on June 7 after a $32 million renovation and repositioning of the former Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf. Pebblebrook Hotel Trust acquired the Radisson in December 2013 for $132 million with intentions of transforming it into an upscale boutique hotel. Operator Davidson Hotels & Resorts teamed up with Dawson Design Associates (DDA) for the redesign of the waterfront property. Hotel Zephyr’s character is brought to life through the use of unexpected materials, from recycled corrugated metal and cargo containers to upcycled nautical materials and shipping crates. To convey the hotel’s lively spirit, DDA concocted a maritime theme that captures the personality of rowdy sailors. The hotel’s 11,600-square-foot outdoor lounge features fire pits and life-sized games, including Connect4, Jenga, tube ping pong, and a tabletop labyrinth maze. (See also: Hotel Zephyr GM Creates Playful Experience)

St. Anthony: In November, Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, together with its owner partner BC Lynd, unveiled a multimillion-dollar restoration of the historic St. Anthony hotel. Built in 1901 as the first luxury hotel in Texas and located near the city’s River Walk, the hotel’s redesign includes enhanced accommodations, refreshed public spaces, and new dining venues. Dallas-based interior architecture and design firm ForrestPerkins led the two-year renovation. The new design aesthetic was significantly influenced by Fiesta, San Antonio’s annual spring festival dating back to the late 19th century. The hotel’s new interior weaves traditional Fiesta floral patterns and jewel tones into decorative elements, including stylized carpets, upholstery, artwork, and light fixtures. The restoration included the reopening of the St. Anthony Club, the city’s first private members-only venue.

Fontainbleau Miami Beach: Following a $1 billion renovation and expansion in 2009, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach continues to make upgrades to match the needs of luxury consumers. Most recently, the iconic hotel renovated four of its luxury suites located in the Chateau tower: La Baie, Le Sable, La Mer, and Le Ciel. Fontainebleau tasked Janice Clausen, founder and principal of CCID, with the design refresh. Although each suite has its own distinctive style and room plan, they all feature soft neutral tones, polished woods, and shimmering fabrics that provide an airy background against the blue ocean views. A collection of large and bold abstract artwork is displayed throughout the suites.


Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery: The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in New Orleans’ Warehouse Arts District debuted in April after a $13.4 million renovation and rebranding project of the former Ambassador Hotel. Provenance Hotels and GB Lodging purchased the property in August 2013 in partnership with Woodbine Development. The new name references the building’s original address (77 Tchoupitoulas St.) and history as a chandlery, or general wholesale business. Built in 1854, the property first served the port of New Orleans as a coffee warehouse before being purchased by E.J. Hart & Company, which traded canvas, rope, paper, tobacco, patent medicines, and other products. The interior design of the Old No. 77, done by New York City-based Parts and Labor Design, pays homage to the building’s industrial past while infusing modern and local touches.

The Palace Hotel: The Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection property in San Francisco owned by Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, debuted an extensive $40 million renovation in October. The Palace Hotel was once at the center of America’s first Golden Age of Travel, which inspired the interior redesign of the hotel led by Beatrice Girelli of indidesign. Former icons of industry, politics, innovation, aviation, and cinema inspired the design of the hotel’s 556 guestrooms. Original elements include crown moldings that frame wrought-iron windows and solid oak doors adorned with brass monogrammed knobs. Situated under archways and coved sky-lit ceilings, San Francisco’s famed Garden Court has been renovated to reveal two separate dining experiences. The GC Lounge features tufted banquettes, speakeasy seating, and a communal table with discreet technology. Inspired by the paned glass ceiling, bronze paneled screens with antique mirror accents create a residential feel. The Garden Court’s 120-seat dining room is nestled amid gilded Ionic columns, a glass dome ceiling and historic Austrian crystal chandeliers.

 Hotel Commonwealth: This month, Boston’s Hotel Commonwealth unveiled a $50 million expansion and renovation project that nearly doubles the number of existing guestrooms and event space. The new wing overlooking Fenway Park features 96 new guestrooms and suites, including a Fenway Park Suite decorated with Red Sox memorabilia—in keeping with the property’s effort to integrate its love for the team into its hotel practices and design. The guestrooms include custom-designed furniture, industrial-inspired lighting, and baths with walk-in showers and sliding barn doors. All new rooms offer a “virtual concierge,” which provides instant access to amenities via a Google Nexus tablet. The expansion also includes 6,000 square feet of additional meeting and event space, including a 1,500-square-foot terrace.

The Omni King Edward Hotel: After a $40 million restoration, the Toronto hotel’s guestrooms, meeting spaces, lobby, restaurant, and bar were updated from its original 1903 design. The reimagining of the space showcases its old-world charm mixed with modern style. All 301 guestrooms feature fine furnishings, vintage crown moldings, high ceilings, and marble bathrooms. Updates to the lobby include the restoration of decorative plasterwork on the ceiling and the wood-paneled walls, as well as new furnishings in rich hues of ivory, gold, and purple. Renovations to the Sovereign Ballroom add four large teardrop crystal chandeliers, and the Vanity Fair Ballroom and Windsor Ballroom were also updated. Moncur Design Associates and Omni Hotels & Resorts crafted the new look and design.

Caesars Palace Las Vegas: As part of the 50th golden anniversary, Caesars Palace Las Vegas reimagined the hotel’s original Roman Tower to become Julius Tower. The $75 million renovation is part of an ongoing brand transformation. The new 587-room tower, open on Jan. 1, will feature modern rooms designed by Michael Medeiros of KNA Design in a neutral palette with pops of freesia yellow and Aegean blue. The entry and bathroom walls will feature a two-toned pattern, and a stone shower with a glass enclosure features two sides of glass. Room amenities include a specially-curated mini bar and 55-inch TVs. The new Julius Tower rooms feature custom artwork, combining images of Roman statues with hand drawn costumes that inspire the notion of a Caesars Palace-themed Vegas “show girl.”

The Logan Philadelphia: A modern hotel located in Logan Square, the newly renovated Logan Philadelphia features 391 guestrooms, 64 of which are suites that are complete with marble bathrooms and French doors that separate the bedroom from the living area. The guestrooms, event space, and public areas feature locally curated art, showcasing statues, paintings, murals, and sculptures true to its surroundings. Formerly the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, the Logan Philadelphia offers 12,700 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting and banquet space, including a grand ballroom that can accommodate up to 500 guests. The hotel also has 12 adaptable meeting and event spaces ranging from rooftop venues to sunlit boardrooms.

Marriott St. Louis Grand: The historic Renaissance St. Louis Grand underwent a $30 million renovation, designed by Stonehill and Taylor. The design team created a concept around the revitalization of St. Louis. A piece of sculptural artwork made from indigenous rocks from St. Louis greets guests upon arrival. As guests approach the reception area, a large abstracted artwork of the city’s landscape captures their attention. The lobby, crafted with a combination of woods, bronze, and porcelain, was redesigned to encourage a more social space. Meeting areas, mixed social seating, and power outlets create an environment that allows visitors to work or play.

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