The $70 million renovation of the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel has been completed, and is one of several key overhauls of urban hotels that Starwood executives say will showcase the nearly complete $6 billion global upgrade of the Sheraton brand.
In a sign of the importance Starwood has placed on the brand overhaul, Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen and Sheraton senior vice president Hoyt Harper II (who oversaw the project) came to Denver for ceremonies marking the culmination of the renovation that turned the former Adam’s Mark, Colorado’s largest hotel, into a showcase Sheraton.
"There’s been a huge investment in major urban markets," Harper said. "We hope these will be a beacon for the brand, that they will really help set the tone for the brand."
The Denver Sheraton is one of two former Adam’s Mark convention hotels converted to a Sheraton. The other, in Dallas, is undergoing a $90 million renovation.
Additionally, Harper said that $187 million is being spent on the Sheraton in Waikiki, $55 million is being spent in Boston and $38 million in Montreal.
The Sheraton Denver Downtown, located on the city’s downtown pedestrian mall, has 1,231 guestrooms and 133,000 square feet of meetings space.
As part of the new brand standards — which essentially bring the domestic hotels up to par with their more consistent, higher-quality international counterparts — the Sheraton Denver Downtown has a cybercafe-style lobby with free Internet under Sheraton’s new Link program.
The rooms are contemporary and have flat-panel TVs. The hotel also has a huge, modern gym.
Harper said more than $6 billion is being spent on the brand upgrade, including $2.3 billion on new hotels in North America, $2 billion on hotels internationally and $1.9 billion on renovations to nearly 100 existing hotels.
About 40 hotels are leaving the brand, which currently has about 400 hotels, said Harper.
Although the Sheraton overhaul was announced not long before the economy tanked, Harper said the projects have proceeded on schedule because most hotel owners got financing before the market tanked.
"And when the market turned, we re-evaluated what we were asking them to do, and they collectively agreed to stay the course," he said.
Van Paasschen said it turned out to be a great time for the project.
"Whether it’s Sheraton or any of our brands, investing at the bottom of the cycle like this turns out over time to be a great opportunity because you have fresh inventory, you have great new hotels at a time when the market will start to grow," van Paasschen said.
Across all of Starwood’s nearly 1,000 hotels — which include the St. Regis, W, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element — van Paasschen said 250 hotels are newly opened and 350 have been recently renovated, meaning that "60% of our product will be fresh and new at the bottom of what I expect to be our next up market."
Harper said guest satisfaction scores were at record levels for the Sheratons that are new or have completed their renovations. The project began in 2007 and will be completed next year.