If TV execs ever need an idea for a television show, Extreme Makeover: Hotel Edition has hit written all over it. Thanks to bank-breaking renovation after renovation, the hospitality industry is in the midst of a major makeover — and you, the savvy world traveler, are the chief beneficiary of all the shiny brass fixtures and fresh coats of paint. From a rejuvenated Rome institution to a marvel in Midtown Manhattan, old standards will strut their new looks all year long. These are the 15 projects that those executives and everyone else should keep their eyes on in 2016.
The Peninsula Chicago
Since it opened, there’s always been something special about this Five-Star hotel on Chicago’s iconic Mag Mile. Fifteen years, later the Peninsula isn’t resting on its laurels — in April it will debut all-new guest rooms that have an up-to-date contemporary vibe (Macassar furnishings, cream leathers, silk-printed art installations and pops of blue that evoke Lake Michigan just blocks away).
But what’s really novel here are the new bedside tablets, which switch between 11 languages and help control lighting and temperature, order room service, and access hotel services and an insider city guide.
There are new service initiatives, too. Guests who book online can check in 24 hours a day. Those who want to delve into Chicago’s rich culture can take advantage of Keys to the City — a program with perks like a behind-the-scenes look inside the kitchen of Five-Star restaurant Grace.
Montage Palmetto Bluff
The construction underway at this Four-Star South Carolina Lowcountry resort is more of an expansion than a traditional renovation, but the 150 new accommodations (from cottages to rooms at the new inn) will mirror the classic Southern-style design of the existing resort.
And while 76 new guest houses debuted this year already, the rest of the expansion — a new inn with a lobby lounge and an octagon bar with views of nearby inland lagoons, a 13,000-square-foot spa, and a pool with a bar and grill — will be finished this fall.
Only if you were being nitpicky would you say that an absence of a spa kept Hotel Eden from feeling complete. The regal address sitting in the heart of Rome had everything else leaning in its favor — spotless service, elegant décor and arguably the finest view of the Eternal City from your table at La Terrazza dell’Eden.
Still, the 127-year-old property heard the grunts and elected to make a spa addition a part of a major renovation to be unveiled this autumn.
Additionally, the hotel will spruce up 99 guest rooms with a contemporary charm from interior designer Bruno Moinard and ensure the sixth-floor restaurant and bar continue to captivate with a facelift from Jouin Manku visionaries.
L’Ermitage Beverly Hills
Come spring, this Five-Star Los Angeles hotel will emerge from a makeover with a new name (Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills) and look. In the 116 suites, expect Venetian cut-glass mirrors, floor-to-ceiling suede and velvet headboards, white onyx and gray marble and dressing rooms with a walk-in closet and a selection of mirrors featuring indoor, outdoor and evening lighting settings.
While the spa, gym and rooftop will finish renovations later this year, watch out for the spring arrival of Avec Nous, a new contemporary French bistro helmed by executive chef Olivier Quignon, who formerly held that title at New York’s Bar Boulud.
After a three-year closure, this Parisian icon was set to debut in March. But a January fire pushed the opening to later in 2016. It’s worth the wait—under the direction of architect-designer Thierry Despont (who oversaw the renovation of Five-Star The Dorchester in London), the hotel will unveil the world’s first Chanel spa, a retractable glass roof that will turn its garden into a year-round gathering spot, an expanded École Ritz Escoffier cooking school (for everyone from newbies to experts), Empire-style guest rooms filled with wood and pastels, and unique Prestige Suites whose décor and names honor well-known past guests, including Coco Chanel, Marcel Proust and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
With a new discreet tunnel under Place Vendôme linking the parking lot to the Paris hotel, we suspect many more famous guests will be checking in soon.
InterContinental New York Barclay
In the midst of a $180 million renovation, the 90-year-old Barclay and plans to start welcoming guests in May.
Architects Stonehill and Taylor and interior design firm HOK are restoring the 1926 hotel to its original Federal-style beauty and adding some contemporary flourishes. Even the toiletries will be a throwback, as the Barclay is collaborating with apothecary Caswell-Massey, which was housed at the hotel for more than 80 years.
We can’t wait for the Midtown Manhattan hotel’s gin bar and the Penthouse Sky Suite, which comes with a 1,500-square-foot terrace that overlooks the Chrysler Building.
Hôtel Le Toiny
It’s all about the ocean at the reimagined St. Bart’s hotel — think sun-bleached sand and driftwood. Each of the 15 villas has hardwood floors, fine linens and blue pieces of handmade furniture.
The open-air bar will be decorated with oyster shells and coral-colored seating while the champagne terrace near the pool sticks to a chic neutral palette.
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the renovation was the Le Toiny Beach Club, whose setting includes a coconut grove, a pineapple orchard and a tamarind field. The secluded beach can only be reached by the hotel shuttle, which means that won’t have to elbow for space when you relax on the sand with a cocktail.
The St. Regis Monarch Beach
Renovations have been ongoing for quite some time at this beloved Five-Star Orange County hideaway and some of the excellent amenities have been closed while construction is underway (including the pool, the spa and one of the restaurants). But the end is near. Property enhancements are expected to continue through April, but you can already check out the revamped guest rooms, a new lounge and lobby.
Three more new restaurants will debut this spring, along with a sparkling new spa (which will be part of the Miraval wellness brand) and a new pool area with dual infinity-edge pools and private cabanas.
The Betsy — South Beach
One part colonial, one part Art Deco, the new Betsy opens in Miami in the fall. The boutique hotel will absorb the adjacent Carlton Hotel. The Colonial Wing (which is the existing Betsy hotel) has 58 rooms, BLT Steak, a spa and a working space for visiting writers.
The new Art Deco Wing (the Carlton) will house a library and lounge for the hotel’s vast literary programming, suites, a terrace and a fifth-floor rooftop pool with unobstructed views of the city skyline and the Art Deco District. These two buildings will be joined by a stylized bridge that will be less pedestrian path and more public art piece.
Four Seasons Resort Lana’i
Once Hawaii’s largest pineapple plantation, Lanai now serves as a private island escape. The main attraction is this resort, which is fresh from an extensive renovation (sister property The Lodge at Koele will reopen later this year).
Rooms meld an exotic look (artisan Nepalese lokta paper wall panels bordered by teak and zebra wood) with modern conveniences (75-inch LED TVs, iPad Airs).
While you may want to head for the picture-perfect beaches, try the hotel’s lagoon-style, free-form pool with a cascading waterfall or the adults-only pool with waterfalls and lava rock grottos that mimic the island’s cliffs and overlook Hulopoe Bay. Bonus: Pool staff will have complimentary Kindle rentals and Evian spritzes at the ready.
“Our guests describe their stay as a journey,” says Soliman Khaddour, general manager, “every room is completely different. Every time they come, they uncover a new secret escape.”
JSJ Design gave the Victorian décor a modern edge with pops of color and gleaming metallic accents. Be sure to sip champagne in the cozy low-lit bar under the multi-shaped coffered ceiling when the renovation wraps up this spring.
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
The Four-Star property in scenic Monterey will unveil its $2.6 million renovation in March. The lobby will host live entertainment each weekend to show off the space’s new furnishings, fireplace and artwork.
Plan to stay in one of the four penthouse suites, which will undergo complete redesigns with hardwood floors, stonework and surround sound systems. Then make an appointment at Vista Blue Spa; it will give you an excuse to linger on its brand-new sundeck and take in the fresh ocean air before and after your treatment.
Las Vegas’ tribute to ancient Roman emperor Julius Caesar celebrates its 50th birthday this year with a $75 million upgrade. The Roman Tower at Caesars Palace clocked in at 567 rooms, but with the remodel, it transformed into the Julius Tower and gained 20 additional deluxe guest rooms.
The Julius Tower spaces debuted in January decked out in neutral hues and punches of bright yellow. Some of the accommodations feature Greek-inspired chaise lounges and custom artwork (hand-drawn renderings of Roman statues in Vegas showgirl costumes).
The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago
Forty years have passed since this venerable Four-Star Windy City hotel opened its doors high above Michigan Avenue, and while it still shines (especially the friendly Midwestern staff), it is embarking on a two-phase renovation plan this year.
The first part — a stylish, luxe new Club Lounge, bathroom remodels in some suites and an enhanced fitness center — will be completed by this spring. We’ll have to wait for 2017 to see the second part of the remodel, which will focus on revamping the iconic lobby and guest rooms.
Among the hibiscus and coconut trees of St. Bart’s, Four-Star Le Guanahani is in the home stretch of its four-year renovation. The lavender, turquoise and yellow guest cottages (67 total, 36 suites) are “Explorer Style,” complete with custom furniture inspired by vintage luggage chests that explorers used during their travels through the colonies.
If the “Explorer Style” accommodations inspire you, wander along nature preserve paths on the property or indulge in lush treatments at the boutique hotel’s Clarins spa.