Good news, planners. With the economy bouncing back and business travel on the rise, hotels are sprucing up their product in an unprecedented wave of renovations. In 2013, it was estimated the hotel industry spent $5.6 billion on capital expenditure, up 10 percent from 2012 and more than double the $2.7 billion spent in 2010. "We are now seeing triple the amount of renovation projects we were seeing two or even one year ago," said Adam Smith, managing director of HotelProjectLeads.com (www.hotelprojectleads.com), which tracks hotel construction and renovation projects.
Yes, that translates into higher room rates. But with the bulk of that money being plowed into new beds and bedding, shower makeovers, renovated lobbies, meeting space and eateries, you can expect way more bang for your buck. Here's a look at three hotels that in the past few weeks have wrapped up some major facelifts.
Downtown Baltimore's 440-room Lord Baltimore Hotel (www.lordbaltimorehotel.com), a 1928 gem on the National Register of Historic Places, was closed more than a year ago for a multimillion-dollar overhaul. Its new look features Murano and Baccarat chandeliers in the lobby and ballroom, guest rooms designed by a former Ralph Lauren designer, a rooftop garden and 20,000 square feet of event space. The property's new owners, the Rubell family, which run two other hotels as well as the Rubell Family Collection, a contemporary art museum in Miami, say they plan host art exhibitions in the hotel and open a branch of the American Visionary Art Museum's gift shop.
In Washington, D.C., the 153-room Capitol Hill Hotel (www.capitolhillhotel-dc.com) finally has concluded a $6 million renovation begun in 2012. Its overhauled lobby features a blossom-themed mural by local artist Maggie O'Neil and D.C.-flavored art in the renovated meeting rooms. The new federalist-chic guest rooms, redone in shades of white, red and black, are adorned with prints by American artists such as Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol. And say hello to Deuce, the hotel's canine ambassador, who welcomes guests from his lobby perch.
The 267-room DoubleTree by Hilton Boston Downtown (www.doubletree.hilton.com) has 4,000 square feet of event space and a new look, thanks to an $8.6 million renovation. The hotel's upper and lower lobbies, as well as its main restaurant/bar and guest rooms, were completely overhauled. Each room now features a multifunctional media wall with a 37-inch television, a desk area and multiple electrical outlets. "Our focus for 2014 is improving the guest experience," said general manager Tony Franzone.