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Friday, Feb 23, 2024

Makeovers at Area Hotels Make Them More Inviting

In the same manner as hotels offer fresh linens everyday, some area hotels are freshening themselves. Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn in North Hollywood is in the midst of an 18-month renovation that includes everything from replacing guest room soft goods (linens and bedding) to tearing up the asphalt driveway and replacing it with paving tiles. The $3 million program includes converting a center grassy mound area into an outdoor patio and reception area surrounded by planters of drought-tolerant succulents and a circulating water trough fountain. Coming soon will be a rehabbed pool area and lobby, said Bert Seneca, hotel general manager. They have taken fresh approaches to the restaurant, bar, theater and ballroom, he said, and the kiddie pool will become a hot tub, he said. The hotel is capitalizing on its huge leap in customer service surveys completed by guests of all Intercontinental Hotels, the group of which Holiday Inn is a part. The survey ranks individual hotels throughout the chain, Seneca said, with the Beverly Garland jumping ahead of 400 other hotels. “We were at 600 and now we are at 194,” Seneca said, adding that it’s a poll of a 12-month rolling average, rather than the peak measure of a particularly good month. That leap is indicative of the idea that most important renovations, he said, are “how you serve guests.” Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys has undergone a half million dollar upgrade recently as well, fully renovating 80 percent of all the hotel’s meeting and banquet spaces, said general manager Scott Williams. From top to bottom and everything in between, as Williams described it: new ceilings, sound systems, state-of-the art lighting systems, wallpaper, mirrors, carpet, tables, chairs, table skirts, even the restrooms are new. “Everything looks pretty cool,” he said. And that’s only half of it. Another half million will go into updating the Landings restaurant and lobby. The former will begin as soon as May 1; the latter should be done by the fourth quarter of this year. The Presidential Suite was also recently renovated at a cost of about $80,000. Nearby at the Sheraton Universal, $30 million in renovations are due to be completed by mid-summer, the first major upgrade since ’78. Fresh off the drawing board will be poolside lanai rooms and fire pits, semi-private cabanas in the lobby bar, private dining rooms and two bars. Wi-Fi will be available throughout the hotel and an Internet lounge will permit guests to connect with each other and the global community online. Guest rooms will follow an art deco motif, with dark wood paneling and a brown, blue and ivory palette. Guest rooms will get 32-inch LCD TVs and iPod docking station/clock radios. George McGann, manager of the Burbank Airport Marriott, said that a $25 million renovation now underway will remove the last vestiges of the Hilton, now two years gone. “All the guest rooms have been renovated,” he said, with all new furnishings, bedding and bathrooms. The fitness center now has 15 cardio machines, 10 with their own TVs, and now there are 10 new weight machines. The new lobby should be finished by the middle of May. “It will be four times the size of the original,” McGann said, with food and beverage service, Wi-Fi, music, a Starbucks and a new lobby bar. The hotel will also soon boast two newly renovated pool areas, adding fire pits and cabanas and a “whole new front entrance,” he said. “We’ve come a long way since the Hilton days,” he said. The main feature of the guest rooms are their high-tech work stations with ergonomic chairs and plug-and play technology where the new 32-inch HD TV can be used as a screen for the traveler’s laptop, allowing a split screen between the computer and the TV. Marriott performed a similar upgrade to the Renaissance in Agoura Hills. Nellie Freeborn, director of sales for the property, said the plug-in capacity works as a dock for all of a guest’s electrical devices, digital camera, iPod and their chargers, “so you don’t have everything all over the place.” She said the “bulk of the money” of the multi-million dollar renovation there went to upgrading the guestroom bathrooms with mahogany and granite. “It’s all very sleek,” Freeborn said. Each room now has “super-quiet” air conditioning units as part of the facility’s improvements, she said, in addition to upgrades in the fitness center and new landscaping of the grounds.

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