On the heels of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and its partners investing more than €150 million to restore four of Europe’s most iconic hotels under The Luxury Collection, the company is planning to restore more hotels in Europe and Middle East this year. The additional investment of over €300 million includes the restoration of Hotel Imperial in Vienna, Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milan, Santa Marina Resort in Mykonos and Grand Hills in Broumana.
In the past 24 months, Starwood and its partners have restored and reopened The Gritti Palace in Venice, Prince de Galles in Paris, Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville and Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian. Additionally, The Luxury Collection unveiled restored public spaces and enhanced guest accommodations in historic hotels, including Hotel Bristol in Vienna and Hotel Danieli in Venice, introduced new villas to Hotel Pitrizza and Hotel Romazzino at Costa Smeralda in Sardinia and completed the redesign of The Park Tower Knightsbridge in time for its 40th anniversary last July.
This investment—according to Paul James, Global Brand Leader, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, The Luxury Collection and W Hotels Worldwide—illustrates “an intimate understanding of today’s luxury travelers, who are younger, more diverse and more connected than ever before.”
“Of course these hotels, some of which have been royal residences dating back as far as the 16th century, require regular upkeep to ensure the water is hot and the Wi-Fi is flowing,” James told Luxury Travel Advisor, “but more than that, we know that this emerging new generation of global travelers appreciate the indigenous charm of the destination, authentic character of a hotel and the social currency these experiences create. With the help of local artisans and craftsmen, we brought back original design elements that had been covered up over the years and, as we peeled back different layers, revealed and restored some incredible design treasures.”
Hotel guests, who have ranged from a 20-something Chinese model or 40-something Qatari entrepreneur, want to be “where locals are buzzing,” James added, “so we did things like reopen the local street entrance to the Bar Longhi in the Gritti Palace and restore the American Bar at the Hotel Alfonso XIII, a favorite local haunt. You will soon see something similar with Hotel Imperial where the entrance, connecting the hotel to the neighboring Musikverein (home to the Vienna Philharmonic) will be restored and reopened to provide a stately sense of arrival for maestros, musicians and guests.”
Marking the hotel’s 140th anniversary, the Hotel Imperial will complete its one-year restoration, led by British designer Alex Kravetz, later this summer. Beyond the entrance, the restoration will include new concepts for the restaurant, destination bar and café and enhanced event spaces. Originally built in 1863 as a private residence of Prince Philipp of Württemberg, the celebrated hotel is situated in a prime location on the city’s Ring Boulevard.
The Luxury Collection will debut in Lebanon with the conversion of Grand Hills in Broumana which will reopen in December as a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa following an extensive renovation. The resort is high up at the gateway of the mountain village of Broumana, and is centrally located between the sea, mountains and Beirut's downtown. Designed in typical Lebanese mountain resort style, Grand Hills will have 115 rooms and 53 suites, as well as three restaurants and two bars, all with top views of the Zaarour Mountains and Mediterranean Sea set against the pinewood pedestrian village.
In Greece, Santa Marina Resort & Villas will complete a three-year €6 million restoration in time for the 2014 summer season, including a complete renovation of all 75 guest rooms and suites. Located on the revitalized private beachfront, the newly redesigned Bayview Beach Restaurant & Bar will serve a selection of Mediterranean fusion cuisine and seafood.
The Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milan will open this September following an extensive renovation, marking The Luxury Collection seventh hotel in Italy. Located in Piazza Duca d’Aosta, the hotel will have 235 guest rooms and suites, a signature restaurant and roof-top bar with panoramic views of the city, a lounge bar and cigar room, as well as extensive leisure, wellness, and event and meeting facilities.