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Hotels Moving Into Old Buildings

Profile Photo By: H L
March 13, 2014

Hotels Moving Into Old Buildings

Old Big Manor Hotel of Quebec Canada
Old Big Manor Hotel of Quebec Canada

Reuse and recycle are taking on new meaning for hotels.

The Lamb?s Theater, a longtime fixture on West 44th Street inside the Manhattan Church of the Nazarene, is now the luxury Chatwal Hotel. In Philadelphia, the previously empty Lafayette Building near Independence Hall opened in 2012 as the Hotel Monaco. In New Orleans, new life is being breathed into the Cotton Exchange Hotel off Bourbon Street.

As the hotel industry shakes off recession doldrums and new hotels are being built, the once-standard chain hotel has a sibling, hotels repurposed from existing buildings like offices, warehouses and hospitals.

Behind the push is the changing tastes of younger travelers, who flock to cities and are bringing an urban sensibility to their accommodations.

?Travelers don?t want consistency and reliability to come at the expense of authenticity,? said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst for the research firm Hudson Crossing.

The adaptive-use hotel is a presence in smaller cities like Amarillo, Tex.; Pittsburgh; and Stamford, Conn.; as well as big cities like New York, Washington, Boston and New Orleans.

?Brands have realized standardization doesn?t mean as much to guests as it did in the past,? said Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.

Executives at Marriott estimate that 10 percent to 20 percent of their Courtyards opening this year will have had other uses. The Kimpton chain estimates at least a dozen of its 60 properties are repurposed buildings. And in Europe, the InterContinental Hotel Group converted 82 of 187 buildings from 2010 to 2013.

For guests, forgoing the standard hotel template can mean architecturally intriguing features, like odd-shaped hallways, rich history and character, as well as better amenities like a restaurant that draws patrons from the surrounding neighborhood.

But for those accustomed to homogeneity, the experience may be mixed.

John W. Eskew, who runs a design firm in Bridgeport, Conn., found that the wall heater in his room on a recent visit to the four-year-old Hotel Zero Degrees in Stamford ?made a loud hum that made it hard to sleep,? he said.

The building was previously a Y.M.C.A. dormitory. (The developer and owner of Zero Degrees, Randy Salvatore of?RMS Companies?in Stamford, says new individual wall units were placed in rooms when the hotel was renovated four years ago.) Still Mr. Eskew gave high marks to the hotel management for their responsiveness.

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Source The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/11/business/hotels-moving-into-old-buildings.html?_r=1

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