i o n nation
BY JERI CLAUSING
NORTH AMERICAN HOTELS INVEST IN UPGRADES TO MATCH CONSUMER EXPECTATIONS
e n ova t
While much of the attention on the hotel industry in recent years has
focused on new luxury and so-called lifestyle brands, travelers in 2009 will
also begin to see the result of billions of dollars that have been invested in
renovating and upgrading some of the best known, more traditional brands.
Under the Sheraton revitalization, about half of the
206 properties in North America are undergoing
comprehensive renovations to create new lobbies
and overhauled rooms. The room renovations follow
an industry trend to offer distinct zones for working,
relaxing and eating.
New Sheratons will be developed under a prototype
that includes “park-style” lobbies with free Wi-Fi,
computers, game tables and overstuffed chairs.
Guestrooms will have modular workstations, flat-screen televisions, signature beds and 300-count
sheets, and duvet covers. Sheraton is also adding
spas and modern fitness centers to a number of
Marriott’s modern new lobby
“The lodging industry is in the best physical condition
it has ever been in, after year after year of record
capital expenditures,” said Bjorn Hanson, a professor
at New York University’s hospitality school.
From modern new lobbies at Marriotts to more chic
Sheratons and Holiday Inns to upgraded amenities,
bedding and technology from Motel 6 to Hyatt
Regency, long-established brands are moving far
beyond their boxy beige roots.
“I think it is a very positive indication for the industry
that there is going to be a fresh, renewed product out
there,” said Lalia Rach, divisional dean at NYU.
“Because what we do know about consumers is that
it is no longer a trend. It is an expectation that hotel
public areas and rooms are going to be modern,
fresh, indicative of the client’s lifestyle.”
Much of the brand repositioning has been ubiquitous:
flat-screen TVs, better bedding, high-speed Internet
and lobbies that appeal to younger travelers, Hanson
Some of the biggest, most noticeable overhauls are
under way at Holiday Inn, which is in the midst of
a $1 billion makeover of its 3,000 hotels around the
globe, and Sheraton, which has embarked on a
$4 billion brand renovation.
Both brands are forcing owners to upgrade their
properties or be booted from the chain.
Starwood CEO Frits van Paaschen said, on average,
one new Sheraton would be opening every three
weeks in 2009.
Holiday Inn, one of North America’s original roadside
brands, is taking on a sleeker, more modern look.
Lobbies will be cleaner and less cluttered, while room
improvements will include crisp white bedding and
upgraded bathrooms with white, blue and green tile,
curved shower curtain rods and shower curtains with
mesh tops to let in light.
Like many new hotels, Holiday Inns will also have
signature music and scent in their entry and lobby
Holiday Inn Halifax Provided by IHG
Indeed, modern bathrooms, new bedding, flat-screen
televisions and workstations with iPod plugs are
becoming the norm at brands in all categories.
22 TRAVEL WEEKLY’S ULTIMATE HOTEL GUIDE 2009