|By Jamie Herzlich, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 14, 2003 - The Garden City Hotel just renovated its nightclub to include a bar and walls that change colors.
The 18th-Century Maidstone Arms in East Hampton recently went wireless.
And the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan will soon have flat-screen, plasma televisions in all its guest rooms.
With competition among area hotels heating up and with more options for customers to choose from, the region's hotels say they are upping the ante, mirroring a nationwide trend as travelers begin to routinely expect perks and frills that used to be considered luxuries.
Hotel renovations are in full swing at many area hotels and more are expected in the coming year as hotelier's bottom lines improve, according to a new survey prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers Hospitality & Leisure Practice.
The U.S. lodging industry will spend $3 billion on renovations next year, according to Bjorn Hanson, who manages the hospitality practice in Manhattan.
This will be up from 2003, when hotels spent about $2.4 billion on renovations, but down from a peak of $5 billion in 2000. Among improvements are better beds and bedding, high-speed Internet access and upgraded fitness equipment.
For example, the Maidstone Arms, which has been serving overnight guests for 80 years, added high- speed, wireless Internet access this summer, says Room's Manager Gaston Harreguy. Guests with wireless-ready laptops could connect for $5 a day.
Next year, every room at the St. Regis in Manhattan will have high-speed Internet access through its television with a wireless keyboard, said spokeswoman Theresa Delaney -- an amenity long available at some national luxury chains.
The hotel began its renovations earlier this year with a new spa and fitness center complete with individual flat screen TV monitors with DVD and MP3 players on all cardiovascular machines. Next year, the hotel will have Sony plasma TVs mounted on the walls of its 318 guest rooms and suites. "It is quickly becoming a standard at the luxury tier," says Delaney.
Nearby, the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan is also upgrading its property. This summer, the hotel opened a 4,000-square-foot spa and has recently renovated its one-bedroom suites on the Park Avenue corners of the building. The spa includes a private VIP room, personal fitness training, yoga classes and nutritional counseling.
And the Regency Hotel in Manhattan has a $1-million renovation planned for next year for approximately 117 rooms and suites.
On Long Island, the Garden City Hotel is in the middle of a $25-million renovation. Most recently, the hotel spent about $1 million revamping its nightclub, said Brian Rosenberg, a hotel vice president. Most noticeably, the bar, walls and DJ booth change about six different colors in 60-second intervals.
At the Hilton in Huntington, the hotel is spending more than $5 million on renovations, says General Manager Robert Sighinolfi. The hotel has upgraded its ballrooms, added new chandeliers, redone its restaurant and will soon be adding a Starbucks. The 305-room hotel is also redecorating its rooms.
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(c) 2003, Newsday, Melville, N.Y. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.