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July hotel roundup: The latest openings, renovations, brand updates

The U.S. hotel industry is moving along, with 186,945 rooms under construction as of June. That represents a 12.4% increase compared with June 2016, according to research firm STR’s latest pipeline report.

Hoteliers are also investing in renovations across the country. Here’s a roundup of some notable openings, updates and brand developments.

Choice hotels courts the upscale market

Choice Hotels, better known for economy brands such as Comfort Inn and Econo Lodge, is expanding its presence in the upscale market with its growing Cambria Hotels and Ascend Collection.

“We’ve come to the realization that we have customers who are trading up and need brands that are trading up,” says Janis Cannon, senior vice president of upscale brands for Choice.

Right now there are 175 properties in the Ascend Collection, which are independent hotels that take advantage of Choice Hotels’ marketing and distributions system.

In all, 235 Ascend hotels are open or under development worldwide, with 45 set to open this year. 

Meanwhile, Cambria Hotels has 31 properties. By the end of the year, it will open nine more, and break ground on another 18. The company has contracts for 52 other locations.

Cambria has broken into the West Coast market. Cambria Los Angeles International Airport has just opened. Future openings will occur in downtown L.A., Anaheim, Glendale, Napa and Sonoma.

The brand will also increase its presence in Texas, in cities such as Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.

While Cambria properties have been new construction, the company is now going to focus more on adaptive re-use projects, re-purposing historic buildings.

The new Cambria Chicago-Loop, for instance, is situated above the historic Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre. At one point, the building was a mosaic temple.

“We’re protecting (the buildings) and carrying them forward,” Cannon says. “The guests have an appreciation for things that are different and speak to them and tell a story.”

Curio Collection by Hilton expands and renovates

Hilton launched its Curio collection of upscale hotels in 2014, and so far it has grown to 39 properties.

The latest addition is the historic Hotel del Coronado in San Diego County, a National Historic Landmark. The hotel, which is celebrating its 130-year anniversary, has played host to celebrities and royalty.

As part of the Curio collection, the hotel will maintain its independence while taking advantage of Hilton’s distribution systems. Guests will now be able to earn points, get free Wi-Fi, and use digital check-in through the Hilton Honors program.

Also known as “The Del,” the seaside hotel has 757 guest rooms, 47 meeting venues, several restaurants and a spa and salon.

Meanwhile, a number of existing hotels in the collection are stepping up their game.

The Diplomat Resort Hollywood, Curio Collection by Hilton has just emerged from a $100 million transformation. The oceanfront resort has been open since 1958.

The historic El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, has undergone a $60 million renovation. The front of the hotel, guest rooms, restaurants and the lobby have been given a more modern look.

The Hotel Phillips Kansas City, Curio Collection by Hilton has gone through a $20 million transformation of its guest rooms, dining areas and lobby. A member of the National Registry of Historic Places, the downtown landmark opened in 1931, and was once the tallest building in Kansas City.

NOPSI opens in New Orleans

New Orleans has a new luxury hotel. The NOPSI Hotel has officially opened its doors in the Central Business District, a short walk from the French Quarter.

The hotel is part of Salamander Hotel & Resorts, which was launched by BET network co-founder Sheila Johnson.

The nine-story brick property was originally built in 1927 as the headquarters for New Orleans Public Service Inc. (NOPSI), then the city’s utility company and transit operator. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The restoration retained and improved the street façade, cast-iron rails, stone panels, and the lobby’s vaulted ceilings, arches, and stone terrazzo flooring.

“We were drawn to the building’s beauty and history, and our restoration ensures the spirit of this great city is fittingly captured,” says Carl Kuehner, chairman of Building and Land Technology (BLT), the hotel’s owner.

NOPSI features 217 guestrooms, including 76 suites, and 14,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space. Guestrooms range in size from 350 to 800 square feet.

The hotel has a restaurant called Public Service, a rooftop pool and bar named Above the Grid. It also has a lobby bar called undercurrent Bar & Patio.

Thousands of manhole covers throughout the city still bear the NOPSI name, which inspired the hotel’s logo.

Pursuing a Dream in Los Angeles

Dream Hollywood has officially opened not just as a hotel, but a dining, nightlife and wellness retreat.

It marks the fourth Dream hotel to open in the USA.

Located on the corner of Selma Avenue and N. Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood, the hotel has 178 guest rooms and suites, including an 1,800-square-foot Guest House suite with a private screening room and 360-degree views.

The property has an 11,000 square-foot rooftop pool, restaurant and lounge with views of the Hollywood Hills and L.A. Skyline. It has a 1,000 square-foot gym and wellness program designed by celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, who will prepare the personal trainers himself.

“Being able to inject new life and excitement into Hollywood through this hotel, and watching the area continuing to grow, adds a unique and special energy,” says Ayo Akinsete, general manager of Dream Hollywood.

The hotel features five restaurant and nightlife venues operated by the TAO Group, including The Highlight Room, Beauty & Essex, TAO Asian Bistro, Avenue, and Luchini Pizzeria and Bar.

Through an exclusive collaboration with the Lincoln Motor Company, guests will also have access to Lincoln's new "Black Label" models.

Hotel Tonight gets an upgrade

Travelers using the HotelTonight mobile app for last-minute bookings will now be able to upgrade to a suite or higher room class at a discounted rate.

Nearly 250 HotelTonight hotels have already signed on for the new feature in cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, and Miami. HotelTonight expects more hotels to join over the next several months.

“We’re continuing to build out the ‘last-minute’ category to give consumers all the booking options you get at a hotel -- now with upgrades -- except at a greater discount because it’s last-minute” says Sam Shank, CEO and co-founder of HotelTonight.

To get an upgrade, users can see which hotels have them available on the details page of participating properties. They can also search all hotels offering upgrades by typing a city name plus the word “upgrade” in the search bar, such as “London upgrade.”

 

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