By Melissa Yeager, Arizona Republic │ az.newsmemory.com
Warmth. Comfort. Community. Those are some of the words Marriott executives use to describe their vision for the revamped Sheraton brand once it emerges from renovations at hotels worldwide.
And, of the 120 Sheraton hotels they plan to renovate in the coming months, they hope the Sheraton Grand Phoenix will be the company’s “jewel box” to display the concepts they’ve envisioned.
Sheraton will launch a major remodel of the downtown Phoenix hotel in June, starting with updating its 1,000 guest rooms.
In July, the hotel will begin transforming its lobby into a redesigned community public space where it hopes guests and locals will feel at ease to “work, meet and relax.”
The hotel will stay open during the renovation, which is expected to be completed by early 2020.
Creating an identity for Sheraton
The company readily admits that the Sheraton brand has been searching for an identity, especially since Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (Sheraton’s parent company) and Marriott International merged in 2016.
“The normal person remembers all these memories about Sheraton but can’t really articulate what the brand is today,” said Indy Adenaw, Sheraton
Hotels’ vice president of brand management.
In 2018, Marriott announced it would transform Sheraton, the thirdlargest brand in its portfolio with 450 hotels in 75 countries worldwide, to set it apart from the hotel giant’s other properties.
The new Sheraton brand will provide relaxed spaces for locals and guests to work, meet and eat. The company hopes this new community focus will differentiate it from Marriott, which executives describe as a “polished, structured, formal” brand that celebrates business travelers.
Phoenix as Sheraton’s ‘jewel box’
Much like the brand itself, the Sheraton Grand Phoenix also has been listless.
Phoenix spent $350 million to build the 1,000-room hotel to attract conventions to the newly renovated convention center. It broke ground in 2006 and opened to guests just as the recession hit in 2008.
In June 2018, the city sold the hotel at a loss to Marriott for $255 million.
When Marriott purchased the property last year, it predicted the hotel would be “a living and breathing showcase of our new vision for the Sheraton brand.”
This week, Marriott executives invited travel reporters from across the country to tour the property before its renovation. During the tour, executives said the hotel’s downtown location in the fifth largest and second fastest growing city in the U.S. provides great opportunity for Sheraton to put its new concepts into action.
“We really felt like it was set up in multiple ways to be a community hotel,” Adenaw said.
Remodeled Sheraton’s amenities
Sheraton hopes these amenities will attract locals as well as out-of-towners:
❚ A coffee bar anchoring the public space.
❚ Community tables, complete with charging stations, where people can work.
❚ Small, soundproof booths where people can take calls privately.
❚ Five studios with digital technology that people can book from their smartphones to hold small meetings.
❚ A Sheraton Club on the ground floor.
❚ A market with grab-and-go options.
❚ A community manager who is equal parts concierge and host of the community space.
❚ A new tapas-style restaurant with a bar that takes advantage of outdoor
❚ A quick-service restaurant with late-night food and a garage door that opens it to the outside.
“They’re going to see something that is vibrant. They’re going to see a product associates are proud of,” said Mike Ehmann, the hotel’s general manager.
Seeking input from locals
Ehmann called the anticipated transformation a “terrific collaborative effort” between corporate and his team of 420 local employees.
To make sure Sheraton has designed a place that feels communal, the brand has had a research team in Phoenix, interviewing locals about prospective concepts and listening to their feedback.
The redesign will also focus on using elements that represent the heritage and warm textures of the Southwest, which the brand hopes will make locals feel the large hotel is at the heart of their community.
“We are building as much for them as we are for the out-of-town guests,” Adenaw said.
TynanGroup is the Project Manager on the Sheraton Grand Phoenix Renovation Project.