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The Renaissance hotel brand has been part of Marriott International's portfolio since 1997.
During the last two decades, design has always been a top priority for the brand, which prides itself on inviting guests to experience the unexpected and unconventional both inside and out of the hotel.
However, it wasn't until recently that Renaissance Hotels decided to take that effort to the next level, doubling down on its commitment to making design a key experiential pillar for guests.
The move has inspired a massive effort at more than 40 percent of the brand's North American properties, which are undergoing dramatic renovations this year in order to reinvent their design story.
From Nashville, Tennessee to Newport Beach, California, nearly half of Renaissance's hotels in North America will complete sweeping transformations to reflect the brand's evolution and what it aims to offer guests today: a sense of clever theatricality and an open invitation to experience something less expected during their stay.
In addition to the changes taking place at existing properties in the portfolio, the brand is also slated to debut in 16 new neighborhoods globally over the coming 12 months. Locations include places such as Philadelphia, Warsaw, Taipei, and Hangzhou.
The new properties, whether conversions, new builds or renovations, will also be heavily focused on the heightened design strategy, leveraging architecture, interiors, and art to work together.
The pun aside, it's hardly an understatement to say that the Renaissance brand is in the midst of its very own renaissance.
"This is not a complete departure from where we were before, we are building on the foundation of what the brand had established in the past," George Fleck, vice president of global brand marketing & management for Renaissance Hotels, told TravelPulse during a recent interview. "But now we can really claim to be a brand that delivers on that positioning of offering unexpected experiences and this design narrative."
In concert with its heightened design focus, Renaissance properties continue to strive to introduce a true sense of the surrounding neighborhood for guests. Each property very deliberately seeks to encourage travelers to discover the hidden gems that give a particular location its soul, an effort that's also being taken to the next level.
"The surrounding neighborhood is a really key inspiration for the brand," explained Fleck. "Many hotels say they are inspired by something local. That's a claim most companies will make. We are trying to take that even deeper."
What does that mean exactly? Fleck points to what's happening with the brand in Paris to illustrate his point.
"We have five hotels in Paris and it was really important that each of them not just be inspired by Paris, but by each neighborhood that they are located in," Fleck continued.
One of the properties, Renaissance Paris Republique Hotel, is located a bohemian, artistic neighborhood in a building that was previously an artist commune. When the property was transformed into a hotel, Renaissance invited many of the artists who used to live and work there back to create art for the property.
"We are paying homage to the people that made this place special long before it was a hotel," said Fleck.
The hotel is also partnering with local restaurants and shops to provide guests with even more local experiences, whether that's visiting a local gallery or meeting with a bar owner to learn about the latest and greatest local cocktails, said Fleck.
This month will also bring the completion of a multi-million-dollar renovation at the Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel.
Designed by Didier Gomez, the intimate 97-room property is inspired by the fashion designers and jewelers that have had their salons in the surrounding square. That focus includes creatively layered patterns and textures throughout the interiors, including guestrooms featuring statement art pieces of French feminine style wrapping the ceiling.
"The whole hotel is inspired by the fashion of the area," said Fleck. "It's a lot more refined, more elegant, and it is inspired by all of these ateliers around the hotel and couture designers in the neighborhood. It looks very, very different from the Renaissance Paris Republique Hotel, but both properties play off the idea of local and are very much inspired by the neighborhoods themselves."
Yet another Renaissance property soon coming online (this spring) is the Renaissance Philadelphia Downtown Hotel, which will include a theatrical design reframing the historic fabric of its host city with a modern energy. There will also be unexpected pop art throughout the building. The reimagined lobby, (reminiscent of Elfreth's alley in Old Town), for instance, will be anchored by a 100-foot graffiti wall designed by local artist Dan Murphy. The restaurant meanwhile features portraits of Benjamin Franklin's five mistresses created with pixelated $100 bills.
Next year the brand is slated to introduce Renaissance New York Chelsea South Hotel, a new build on the former Antiques Garage Flea Market site. In 2020 the Renaissance Harlem Hotel is also scheduled to open, restore and playfully reimagine the Victoria's Loews Theatre, which was at the center of the vibrant Harlem Renaissance era when art began to flourish in northern Manhattan. With approximately 200 guestrooms and suites, the hotel will exude polished glamour with a nod to the grit and tenacity of the destination's triumphant past.
"The brand has never been in a stronger position from a product and design perspective," said Fleck. "There are all of these interesting and engaging elements - whether, through architecture or interior design or the food - there are unexpected playful experiences all around you."
Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has two decades of experience. Most recently she worked as a staff writer for...
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