Brown’s in town: The Rocco Forte property has reopened
The British capital has a historical reputation
for resiliency. Over the centuries, London has survived fires,
plagues, sieges and air raids. In each case, the city and its
doughty residents have got on with it, as the expression goes, and
moved straightway ahead.
It appears to be no different this year. Last July, terrorists
bombed the city’s mass transit system. Although the scars of the
tragedy remain, residents and visitors continue to use the Tube and
buses, and hotel occupancy rates are back to pre-attack levels,
according to VisitLondon.
The local hospitality community, spearheaded by VisitLondon,
once again is promoting the city’s surprise victory over Madrid,
Moscow, New York and Paris to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games,
and touting the myriad improvements and developments under way as a
London’s bid to build a large conference center is showing
progress. A commission set up by the city’s mayor, Ken Livingstone,
recently recommended the facility be built in central London and
estimated the cost at US$500 million. The commission predicted the
center will boost the British economy by US$700 million annually
and create 5,500 jobs; the work will be funded by a public/private
partnership. Commission chairman Gerry Acher requested a short list
of two possible sites for the meeting venue by this spring, with
the final site to be selected this summer.
The landmark Brown’s Hotel has reopened
following a $34 million, 20-month facelift. Now part of Rocco Forte
Hotels, Brown’s has 117 guest rooms, including 15 suites; six
meeting rooms; a restaurant and bar, and a gym with three spa
The 394-room Riverbank Park Plaza opened last
year with 10 meeting rooms, two ballrooms and a function room with
panoramic views of the River Thames and the city skyline.
The Savoy, formerly a feather in the Savoy
Group’s cap, is now managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. The
remaining Savoy Group properties, Claridge’s, The
Connaught and The Berkeley, were sold
last year and are now part of The Maybourne Hotel Group.
The 130-room Apex City of London hotel opened
last fall. The property, near the Tower of London, has five meeting
The Hilton Waldorf has completed a $52 million
head-to-toe renovation of its 299 guest rooms and all public
spaces, as well as the executive lounge and seven meeting
The Draycott, an elegant 35-room townhouse
property in the tony environs of Cadogan Gardens, is now able to
accommodate group buyouts for meetings.
In late 2009, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
will debut its first European property here a 195-room hotel on 18
floors of the 70-story London Bridge Tower. When completed, it will
be Europe’s tallest building. The hotel will have meeting space for
400, a business center with several board rooms, and a CHI spa,
Shangri-La’s signature spa brand.
Hilton International has two debuts this year: the 283-room
Hilton London Canary Wharf, with eight meeting
rooms, and the 245-room Hilton London Tower
Bridge, with nine meeting rooms.
Last fall, the Eurostar train, which offers high-speed service
between London, Paris and Brussels, launched separate cars for
business and leisure first-class travelers.