Sept. 15--Westin Annapolis is banking on a $5 million renovation project to help boost its market share.
The Park Place hotel is in the midst of upgrading 225 rooms and hallways, including new shower heads and windows. That portion of the work will begin in November and all of the work is expected to be complete by Valentine's Day.
For now, the most visible change has been creating meeting space out of what was once the Annapolis Grill. Now the shuttered restaurant -- which has new carpet, wall vinyl and other features -- can be used for a series of business and social activities. The hotel's Azure Restaurant and Lounge will also get new furniture, end tables and lamps.
"I think (the renovation) positions us as a leader," General Manager Jim Piccoli said. "The other hotels are great organizations from a business standpoint. We have a competitive advantage being new, with the space and the brand."
The Westin isn't the only area hotel in the midst of an upgrade. Just east of its Westgate Circle location, the O'Callaghan and Loews Annapolis are making million-dollar changes. But constant renovation projects are necessary as hotels try to meet consumers' evolving preferences.
Business and leisure customers want the same amenities they can get at big resorts, like Wi-Fi and upgraded gym facilities, experts said.
"Hotels take a lot of wear and tear," said Bob Gilbert, CEO of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. "(Hotel executives) want to pre-empt any new market competition that would be on the horizon. If you have new hotels or restaurants opening, you need to compete with whoever the new kid on the block is."
The O'Callaghan Annapolis Hotel will undergo a complete refurbishment that is expected to begin in January. The $3 million project will be centered around modernizing the hotel's features, but keeping its style as an Irish boutique hotel, General Manager Albert Montone said.
"We have to remain competitive against our competitors and the changes that they're making and we have to stay fresh in the marketplace," Montone said. "We look forward to rejuvenating an aging asset, to take it to being the best in the marketplace."
In 2011, Loews Annapolis launched a three-year plan geared toward reinventing the property. The hotel's first major renovation in seven years includes interior and exterior work at the Power House conference center, modernizing the lobby and the opening of West Kitchen & Tavern.
The current phase of the project involves a complete renovation of the guest rooms, with furniture, lighting fixtures and other features. Officials declined to release the cost of the work, but a previous report said it will cost at least $5 million.
"We have reinvented the wow factor," said Darren Hills, director of facilities for Loews Annapolis. "A lot of our returning guests affiliated with the Naval Academy and a lot of groups returning for annual events recognize the difference."
The Westin opened at Park Place in 2007, under the ownership of The Carlyle Group. At the time, Morton's Steakhouse operated in the hotel. But the economic downturn led to the closure of Morton's in 2010. Annapolis Grill opened there a year later and closed in 2012.
Also last year, Dallas-based Crow Holdings Capital Partners LLC acquired the hotel and planned for a series of changes. Opening another restaurant would not be cost effective, so the shuttered restaurant was converted which gave the hotel an additional 6,000 square feet of meeting space.
"We wanted to continue to put an even better product out to the community," said Lauren Ricci Miguez, the hotel's director of sales and marketing. "We want to be able to access discerning customers whose experiences are first class."