Marriott International has unveiled the result of years of renovations at its Sheraton Phoenix Downtown. The refreshed hotel is intended to be a “jewel box” relaunching of the Sheraton brand.
But the chic new interior, designed to create a sense of community in the heart of downtown Phoenix, won’t open to visitors until at least May 1.
“For a hotel the size of the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, we are reliant on groups coming to Arizona and coming to Phoenix specifically,” hotel spokesman Jon Erickson said of the decision to postpone the reopening date for several months.
The hotel, which has more than 1,000 guest rooms, closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 31, 2020. The time since has been a rollercoaster for emotion for staff, who watched as groups booked stays hoping it would be safe to travel, only to cancel those plans as the virus surged again.
“We’ve had a number of cancellations through March and April and so now we’re watching and hopeful that May will be the month that allows us to reopen our doors,” Erickson said.
The time closed has not been wasted. The hotel has moved forward with its renovation without disrupting guests.
“We dreamed about it for so long as we saw renderings and plans for it. And now, it’s actually there,” Erickson said.
All guest rooms have been updated. The lobby underwent a transformation, offering new communal workspaces and a “Coffee Bar Bar” meant to be a blend of a coffee bar, alcohol bar and marketplace. It also includes new small spaces where guests can step out to take a phone call, and studios that can be reserved to host small meetings.
The hotel also will have a new Sheraton Club for its most elite rewards program guests.
The hotel has received positive feedback from tours it has conducted for event planners. But that’s not the same as seeing guests enjoy it.
“Now we’re dreaming about all the people coming into it, so that’s a tough part emotionally for our sales team,” Erickson said.
The restaurant, which is under construction, won’t open in May. Its customer base is hotel guests as well as downtown employees, many of whom are still working from home.
“A lot of the people who would create a lunch crowd are not back downtown yet,” Erickson said.
He said the hotel would evaluate when guests return, when downtown workers return and when people feel comfortable eating in restaurants again before making the decision to open the restaurant. If vaccinations proceed at a steady pace over the summer, he was hopeful it might open in the third quarter of 2021.
“We’re hopeful but we’ll continue to watch what happens in the local downtown Phoenix environment,” Erickson said.
Prior to the renovations, Sheraton had struggled with its identity with consumers. While much of the design is unique to Phoenix, executives hope people will come to see a sense of community threading through its properties worldwide.
“While Phoenix was the foundation that kicked off our journey, we also took our transformation across the globe,” Amanda Nichols, global brand leader for Sheraton Hotels, said.
Sheraton has unveiled new looks for the Sheraton Denver Downtown; Sheraton Tel Aviv; Sheraton Grand Dubai; Sheraton Guangzhou, China; and Sheraton Mianyang, China.
Nichols said the next round of renovations will happen at Sheratons in Nashville, Tennessee; Toronto, Canada; Nice, France; Kiev, Ukraine; and Xi’an, China. The goal is to have more than 40 hotels worldwide updated to reflect the new branding by 2022.
Sheraton has 446 hotels in 74 countries and territories around the world.
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