While the lack of available financing and economic uncertainty has made new hotel construction sluggish in the United States, hotel renovation projects have picked up significantly.
“There’s not much new-build activity today, so people are leveraging as much as possible through renovations,” says Jim Looney, owner of design firm Looney & Associates.
I recently spoke to Looney for a feature I’m writing on the many reasons for hotels to renovate, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Lodging.
Looney & Associates is creating a contemporary grand mountain lodge design for the DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh-Green Tree, which is undergoing a $17 million transformation that’s scheduled to be complete by the end of the year. The property was a Radisson hotel until mid-November 2011.
Looney & Associates also led the redesign of the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort, formerly named the Sheraton Safari Hotel and Suites, with assistance from Orlando architect Baker Barrios and landscape architect Jeff Sugar.
The firm used “Florida Fresh Charm” to build a concept of an urban oasis in the heart of the bustling Orlando area. The $25 million transformation, which was revealed last month, centered on a new palm courtyard with two pools, one with a waterfall and 79-foot water slide and the second a zero-entry pool with in-water umbrellas and jets. The project was part of the Sheraton brand’s ongoing commitment to enhance its global portfolio.
The hotel previously had a strong safari theme, building on the hype of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. The layers of African motif, animal prints and details were all stripped, and replaced with fresh citrus colors and a casual central Florida vibe. “Once we stripped that layer off, the project had really good bones,” Looney says.
Read about other hotel makeovers and the motivation behind these projects when the May issue of Lodging comes out.