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The New Rules of Hotel Renovation

The New Rules of Hotel Renovation

Joule Dallas

The challenge: To triple the meeting space and add premier guestrooms
Time it took: 2 years
Price tag: $78 million

With one ballroom, only two meeting rooms, and no outdoor space, the Joule Dallas was missing out on profitable booking opportunities, according to Jessica Craycraft, director of sales and revenue at the luxury boutique hotel. To establish the Joule as a premier venue and ideal destination for corporate meetings, special events, and weddings, Craycraft and her team needed additional space to work with. “We were maxing out with a 40-person capacity in our meeting rooms,” she says.

By investing in the Joule’s meeting and event space, owner Headington Hotels could create a high-end, retreat experience for executives. At least that was the original impetus for the $78 million expansion project. By the time Tihany Designs completed the project last year, the Joule’s meeting space was nearly tripled to more than 14,000 square feet. The hotel, which first opened its doors in 2008, now features two new ballrooms, three breakout meeting rooms, and a rooftop terrace that overlooks the downtown Dallas skyline. The hotel’s original ballroom was also renovated. “It completely opens up our doors to host multiple groups, and we have so many different options,” Craycraft says of the expansion. “We’re really able to put the Joule on the map in a whole different way.”

To accommodate the renovation, Joule closed down its meeting space for six months, from fall 2012 through February 2013. The team devised creative ways to work with clients and fulfill existing bookings, such as using the restaurant, lobby, and penthouse spaces to host events when the meeting space renovations couldn’t allow them, Craycraft says. “We learned to be upfront and honest with clients,” she says. When the project was delayed, the hotel staff reached out to clients immediately to figure out how to still accommodate them. “We wanted to ensure our integrity and what we had guaranteed,” Craycraft says. “And we learned to add a cushion on deadlines and open dates.”

The expansion also added 32 guestrooms —21 premier rooms, eight deluxe suites, and three luxury penthouse units in the second tower—bringing the Joule’s total to 161 guestrooms. Last month, the Joule added a sculpture garden across from the hotel. The space, which is available for corporate meetings and events, can accommodate a 500-person reception. But it’s the chic new 3,300-square-foot rooftop terrace with a climate-controlled pavilion and retractable glass that’s generating attention from many guests—and staff

members. The terrace is accessible via a glass-shaft elevator. “We had no outside space before,” Craycraft says. “It’s working out from the corporate standpoint and the social standpoint. Corporate meetings will host their ‘feed space’ on terrace. It’s a way to step out and get some fresh air, and you can see all of downtown Dallas.”

This year Craycraft expects to book three times the amount of corporate meetings and social events she did last year, thanks to the new spaces and amenities in the meeting rooms, which include high-speed WiFi access and new digital A/V systems with touchscreen controls. Prior to the renovation, the Joule largely focused on business travelers and individual stays, but now the sales staff can market and offer special promotions to large groups, national organizations, and corporations, Craycraft says.

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