In hotel news, leading properties in Chicago and Manhattan change their identities; mid-priced hotels open in the heart of Dallas and Houston; and more independents join up as affiliates of national chains.
Starwood Hotels’ Luxury Collection has added its first property in Chicago. The company has finished the previously announced conversion of the former Conrad Hotel (part of the Hilton family) into a Starwood property called The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel. It’s at 521 North Rush Street in the River North/Magnificent Mile area, directly linked to The Shops at North Bridge. It’s in the old McGraw-Hill Building, an art deco structure, and it’s named after Gwen Lux, a sculptor from the 1920s whose work influenced the design of the period. The Gwen has 300 rooms, three restaurants, and terraces overlooking the Chicago skyline. Rates start at around $360.
Another leading hotel in Manhattan has been acquired by an Asian company and changed its identity. This time it’s the New York Palace Hotel at 50th Street and Madison Avenue, right behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The elegant hotel which underwent a $140 million overhaul two years ago, has been acquired by South Korea’s Lotte Hotels & Resorts, a subsidiary of the Lotte Group, one of Korea’s biggest conglomerates. The hotel is now called the Lotte New York Palace. Earlier, the Waldorf Astoria was purchased by a Chinese company.
Hilton Worldwide has cut the ribbon on the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Dallas at 1600 Pacific Avenue, next to Thanksgiving Square and the Thanksgiving Tower. It’s part of a mixed-use project in the city’s LTV building, not far from Dealey Plaza and the AT&T Performing Arts Center. The 171-room Garden Inn has free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, a 24-hour business center, outdoor pool, fitness center, restaurant with Southern cuisine, and a 24-hour Pavilion Pantry. Rates start at $135.
The newest lodging option in downtown Houston is Marriott’s 167-suite SpringHill Suites Houston Downtown/Convention Center, located at 914 Dallas Street, between Main and Travis streets, three blocks from The Shops at Houston mall. The building, a former apartment complex, was originally the Humble Oil Building, dating to 1921. Guests get a free hot breakfast every day, and guest accommodations provide separate living, working and sleeping spaces. There’s an outdoor pool, a fitness center and a 24-hour market. Rates start at $229.
Meanwhile, leading hotel companies continue to expand their roster of independent affiliate properties, which participate in their reservations systems and their loyalty programs. In the latest developments, Marriott has added the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Charleston, S.C., to its Autograph Collection; and Hilton’s Curio Collection has taken on The Admiral Hotel in Mobile, Ala. and The Partridge Inn Augusta in downtown Augusta, Ga.
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