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Hyatt Regency to begin $60M face-lift

Atlanta Business Chronicle - July 2, 2010 - by Lisa R. Schoolcraft


Atlanta’s second-largest hotel is about to undergo a three-year, $60 million face-lift.

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta will begin the renovation Aug. 5, nearly four years after planning began, said Joe Hindsley, general manager of the 1,260-room hotel at 265 Peachtree St.

It will include a major renovation of its lobby, including a new lobby bar, restaurant and coffee shop. And it will include some kind of remodeling of the Hyatt’s once-iconic blue-domed Polaris restaurant, which closed in 2004. Polaris “will be addressed” Hindsley said.

In 2006, the Hyatt first began plans for “significant repositioning of the hotel, that included upgrading every part of the building,” Hindsley said. But the Great Recession and evaluating the design work delayed the project until now, he said.

“The good news is, the company is now approving a significant capital expenditure in the hotel,” Hindsley said.

Owned by Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp., the Hyatt Regency Atlanta is one of the flagship properties for the chain, said Paul Breslin, managing partner at Panther Hospitality, a hospitality consulting firm in Atlanta.

“It doesn’t look good if your flagship hotel is not in tip-top shape,” he said. “From Hyatt’s perspective, renovating the flagship property is sending a message to all of its other properties.”

When the Hyatt opened in 1967, guests were wowed by architect John Portman’s 23-story atrium. People had seen atriums before, but nothing like this. And the cherry on top was the blue-domed Polaris, at the time the highest point in downtown Atlanta.

Now it’s time to make some changes.

The renovation, designed by TVS Design LLC in Atlanta and constructed by Winter Construction Co. in Atlanta, will be done in stages and will affect about 36,000 square feet of lobby space, said Pat Trammell, senior director of sales and marketing.

The lobby renovation should be complete by summer 2011.

In the spring or early summer 2011, the Hyatt will begin renovating its main tower guest rooms, which will be about $22 million, he added. Then the main ballrooms and meeting space will be upgraded.

The three-year renovation plan will include the former Polaris restaurant, Hindsley said. He does not expect it will be a full-service restaurant again, as Hyatt wants to concentrate its food and beverage options in the hotel’s main level, but Polaris will be used in some way, he said.

Polaris will likely be accessible to hotel guests and the public, said Hindsley, who noted he still gets asked about the restaurant, even though it has been closed since summer 2004.

“We definitely want to get it reopened,” Hindsley said.

The Hyatt’s redo comes as many of the downtown mainstays have already gone through their own renovations.

Hilton Atlanta spent around $65 million to renovate its 1,224 rooms, lobby and meeting space in 2009.

Marriott Atlanta Marquis, Atlanta’s largest hotel, completed an extensive $140 million renovation in 2008.

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel renovated all 763 rooms at a cost of $20 million in 2009.

“You have to renovate to be competitive in the marketplace,” said Niles Harris, general manager of Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. “It put us on par with others that had recently renovated. It took us the better part of a year and now we’re a brand-new property.”