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10 Standout Hotel Renovations in the U.S. for 2021
Arizona Biltmore's Saguaro Pool at dusk. Credit: Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
As both leisure and business travel begins to bounce back in the U.S. following higher vaccination rates and loosened restrictions, travelers may find themselves staying at newly renovated hotels and resorts. That’s because it wasn’t uncommon to hear of properties spending their closure time in 2020 upgrading key areas or, in some cases, undergoing full renovations.
Read about 10 properties (in alphabetical order) throughout the U.S. that have completed or will soon complete noteworthy upgrades this year.
1. Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (Phoenix)
The Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced Arizona Biltmore, a luxury resort built in 1929 at the base of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, reopened May 1 following a property-wide transformation. This includes 28 upgraded standalone luxury cottages that feature earthy hues, stucco walls, patio fire pits and plenty of unobstructed views.
Its Paradise Pool also underwent a makeover, with a new 65-foot waterslide, a children’s splash pad and 15 air-conditioned private cabanas. Along with its two 18-hole golf courses and six tennis courts, guests can now enjoy a round of pickleball on its two brand-new courts.
The new Tierra Luna Spa features 12 treatment rooms and a range of different therapies inspired by the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
A final noteworthy transformation of the property is the restoration of its signature “Biltmore Block.” The iconic architecture of the Arizona Biltmore includes blocks made from desert sand onsite and created in 34 different geometric patterns inspired by the trunk of palm trees. The property’s restoration team retained as many of the original blocks as possible—and the 6,000 that needed replacing or repair were built onsite using the same materials and techniques as the originals.
2. Camelback Resort (Pocono Mountains area, Pennsylvania)
Popular year-round property Camelback Resort, nestled in the Pocono Mountains, recently completed a makeover of all 453 of its guest rooms, which now sport new pops of color, rustic furnishings, modern fabrics, polished marble and artwork by local photographers.
The resort has also remodeled its various dining attractions, including Graffiti Pizza, which now features custom wall coverings by former NFL running back and artist Baron Batch. And the new Sugar Shack, which replaced Sweet Discovery, offers sweet treats in the resort’s lodge on the lower level.
Guests can also expect no-contact services and new resort branding throughout the property.
3. Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter (Covington, Kentucky)
We love a good view, and at this northern Kentucky waterfront property, you’ll get one of the best of the Ohio River and Cincinnati’s downtown skyline. The hotel has completed renovations of its 321 guest rooms, public spaces and meeting spaces.
This includes the Riverview Ballroom, which doubled in square footage to 4,200 and includes floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony overlooking the river. All guest rooms have been modernized with walk-in showers, resilient wood-look flooring and smart TVs.
A new addition to the property includes the M Club, a 24/7 lounge for Marriott Bonvoy members of all levels, and a reinvented Marriott Greatroom for food and beverage, lounging and guest services.
4. Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel (Los Angeles)
This iconic, crescent-shaped property and a shining star of Hollywood hospitality will reopen this September after a $2.5 billion—yes, billion—restoration and redevelopment project (which includes two new residential towers). It will also have a new name: Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel.
The renovated property, with its midcentury-modern design by architect Minoru Yamasaki, features 400 reimagined guest rooms all with private balconies. Guests can also expect a 14,000-square-foot spa, a rooftop pool and nearly 24,000 square feet of private event space. The hotel’s Los Angeles Ballroom can accommodate up to 1,500 attendees for a seated dinner.
Century Plaza is also home to French brasserie Lumière, the hotel’s signature dining outlet that combines French technique with “California style,” including vegan and gluten-free options.
5. Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center (Washington, D.C. area)
After undergoing an expansive $64 million guest room renovation, the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center will reopen July 1. Located in the 350-acre waterfront destination of National Harbor, the property has reimagined all of its nearly 2,000 rooms, with designs inspired by its proximity to downtown Washington, D.C., and the Potomac River.
This Gaylord resort will also offer 110 suites with new looks inspired by the region’s history and touchstones, including cherry blossoms and former first ladies. Many of the larger suites include amenities like in-suite personal fitness rooms and equipment and private dining areas.
The reopening of the property will also bring back its more than 600,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, which makes it the largest non-gaming resort and convention center on the East Coast.
6. Hutton Hotel (Nashville, Tennessee)
This boutique Music City property plans to reopen in early September with “a new look” that includes a reimagined lobby, a new steakhouse and other new programming. Hutton Hotel is nestled in Nashville’s lively West End neighborhood and is just steps from the heart of Music Row.
The property features Analog, a 5,000-square-foot music and entertainment venue that regularly hosts live performances, and the Writers Studios, which are creative spaces for musician guests. Both spaces were designed by Studio 11 Design.
7. Hyatt Regency Houston (Houston)
Hyatt Regency Houston, which unveiled a multimillion-dollar renovation this year, is one of those soaring atrium hotels that make a dramatic impression as an inspiring place to rest, relax, dine and meet. The property has transformed all 955 of its guest rooms, as well as its meeting spaces, F&B outlets and other public spaces, including the expansive lobby and lobby bar.
The new guest room and suite interiors feature accent walls and contemporary furniture, and their designs are a nod to Mark Rothko, a famous abstract artist whose work can be found in Houston’s Menil Collection only blocks away from the hotel.
The Hyatt also refreshed all 55 of its meeting rooms, which total about 71,000 square feet of space and includes a 28,000-square-foot exhibit hall. A standout space is the Window Box, which can accommodate up to 250 attendees and looks out over the lobby. Its funky light fixtures, when illuminated, are a great focal point when guests enter the atrium.
[Related: What to Do and Where to Meet in Houston]
8. The Lodge at Sonoma (Sonoma, California)
Although this California Wine Country resort is currently open, on June 23 it will debut its completed renovations, which include fully redesigned public spaces and guest rooms. It will also emerge as an Autograph Collection Hotel. Fun new details include a new pool deck with a horse trailer turned poolside bar and the addition of private outdoor soaking tubs to the property’s Cottage Suites and select Cottage Rooms.
The Lodge has also revamped the restaurant Wit & Wisdom from celebrity chef Michael Mina, which “draws upon the bounty of the region” and will of course feature a world-class wine list. Along with the High Horse Bar, another new F&B concept includes Benicia’s Kitchen Restaurant, serving up breakfast and lunch daily.
Guests staying in one of the property’s Cottage Rooms or Suites have the option to request a “Sonoma Soak” for their new private outdoor soaking tub. The service comes with bath salts, essential oils, local wine and other items, all hand-delivered to the guests’ doorstep. Not a bad way to take in Wine Country.
9. The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes (Orlando)
For those looking to enjoy the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, the newly updated The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is just the ticket. The 582-room property recently unveiled its $30 million renovation, which include updated guest rooms, a new luxury pool and cabanas and an updated club lounge.
The new room designs, with soft colors and plush textures, were inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds the property, including the landscape grounds, headwaters and other wildlife habitats. Rooms also include higher quality internet speed and more user-friendly outlet placements (always a plus in our book).
Debuting this summer are newly built personal cabanas alongside the property’s sprawling pool, where guests can enjoy amenities like a seasonal fruit plate and snack basket, a mini fridge with non-alcoholic beverages, and a sun care gift bag—all while relaxing on sofa seating and chaise loungers.
10. Turtle Bay Resort (O`ahu, Hawai`i)
Turtle Bay Resort, the only full-service resort on O`ahu’s North Shore, will reopen July 1 after a major renovation that includes a redesigned lobby and pool deck. The redesign, by Los Angeles-based designer and architect Dianna Wong, is meant to celebrate Hawai`i’s natural beauty. Materials incorporated throughout the new design include reclaimed wood, organic fabrics and hand-stitched leather.
Guests will see the transformation right away—the lobby has replaced walls with windows to bring in more light and beautiful views of beaches, surf and sky. The lobby will also feature large-scale works by Hawai`i-based artists like Nick Kuchar and Abigail Romanchak.
The reimagined terraced pool deck now offers an adults-only pool, as well as a redesigned family friendly pool. The pool deck will also feature new cabanas and a new pool bar.
And on top of all that, Turtle Bay’s entire F&B program will be brand new, featuring the lobby bar Off The Lip (as a nod to the North Shore being the home of big wave surfing) and Alaia, the resort’s main dining destination. For coffees and light bites, guests can look to the new lobby cafe Ho’olana.
Other new additions include the Surf House, a gathering place for surfers and fans of surfing, and a new lounge dubbed The Club, which will be the centerpiece of the resort’s exclusive new Vista Level offering.