A bedroom at Latham Hotel
Photo: Courtesy of Latham Hotel
Given the real estate market and tight credit of the past few years, the findings of a 2012 Outlook on Real Estate Trends by Lodging Econometrics are no surprise: Hotel openings will continue at their current lows with a gross growth rate of just 0.9% -- that's off more than 60% from the highs of 2008. Luckily, though, a mix of ambitious projects and hotels planned in the pre-2008 building spree are providing a few high-profile openings that will likely define much of the forthcoming fall for luxury travelers.
In Philadelphia, a full renovation of the city's historic Latham Hotel will conclude with a boutique-luxury spin for the iconic property, built in 1907 as a 14-story apartment building near the city's Rittenhouse Square. Controlled by the same owners as Upstate New York's Sagamore Resort, the Latham renovation will give its lobby, 138 rooms and Urban Enoteca restaurant a more sophisticated, modern design.
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago
Photo: Courtesy of Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel/Carlson
Perhaps the most anticipated U.S. hotel opening of the season comes in Chicago, where Ian Schrager will debut his Public Chicago hotel this month. The don of the modern boutique resort has revamped Chicago's historic 285-room Ambassador East Hotel, which has hosted guests such as Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy. The renovated interiors will offer muted, monochromatic interiors and iconic views of Chicago's Gold Coast, Lake Shore Drive and downtown.
As the first of possibly five Public Hotels, the Chicago property will be home to The Pump Room, an eatery revamped by acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Also in Chicago, Carlson Hotels will open the first U.S. outpost of its Radisson Blu brand -- a luxury staple in Europe and Asia -- in the city's Lakeshore East community. The new Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel is part of a new 82-story skyscraper by architect Jeanne Gang. When the hotel opens later this year, it will mark the micro-brand's U.S. debut. It will feature sexy, cosmopolitan rooms and a contemporary Italian eatery called Filini.
Pool at the Hotel Wilshire, Los Angeles
Photo: Courtesy of the Hotel Wilshire
In Los Angeles, the economic downturn hasn't stopped one of the most ambitious new hotels in recent memory. The Hotel Wilshire recently opened on a section of Wilshire Boulevard that's home to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art but devoid of upscale hotels. The 74-room hotel was designed by Killefer Flammang Architects and is LEED-certified, bringing sophisticated eco-friendly interiors to a location that's close to the city's best shopping areas. Its rooftop restaurant, The Roof on Wilshire, offers 360-degree views of the city.
The Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
In Baltimore, a new hotel from the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts will be the crowning touch on the city's Harbor East development, with its trendy restaurants, upscale shopping and loft-style residences. The company offers a modern spin on business-minded luxury for the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, which features a lively lobby, the Wit & Wisdom Tavern from San Francisco-based chef Michael Mina, and an Asian eatery called Pabu. The hotel is scheduled to open in November, according to its website.
Overseas, look for the Thompson Hotels to debut its Belgraves London, a posh boutique hotel near historic Sloane Square that's sure to be a society magnet for the aristocratic and boho artist set. In Amsterdam, the Conservatorium Hotel will add another luxury property to the city, this time inside a former music conservatory built by Dutch architect Daniel Knuttel. It will feature a palatial lobby, gourmet eatery and business-minded rooms suitable for hotel snobs and the European banking elite. In Russia, the Intercontinental Moscow Tverskaya will open within walking distance of the Kremlin in a bold, modern hotel tower that will feature some of the most modern guest rooms in the city.