Melissa Yeager, Arizona Republic Published 6:30 a.m. MT Nov. 26, 2019 | Updated 10:10 a.m. MT Nov. 26, 2019
Since Memorial Day, the largest hotel in Arizona has undergone major reconstruction as its new owner, Marriott, renovates everything from rooms to restaurants. The goal is to establish the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown as a “jewel box” of Marriott’s relaunched Sheraton international portfolio.
Marriott sees the transformation as a way to breathe new life into the Sheraton name. The brand dates to 1937 and has suffered not so much an identify crisis but a lack of identity in recent years.
“There’s a lot of history behind the Sheraton brand and what people feel about it. It just needed a refresh,” said Mike Ehmann, general manager of the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown.
The same might be said about the downtown hotel. Its decade-old decor was starting to show its age, and controversy was still fresh in the minds of taxpayers just a year after the Phoenix City Council sold the property at a $50 million loss to Marriott in 2018.
So two entities at a crossroads are coming together to create a new vision for Sheraton as a place that serves visitors and brings the community together.
“Phoenix, what better place to do it. We’ve got so much happening downtown that’s growing. We’re seeing all the building taking place. We’re not just thought of as a resort community, but we’re becoming a city out of it,” Ehmann said.
To execute that vision, construction workers have gutted most of the ground floor, pulling out walls that separated the lobby and the bar/restaurant area to create a more open, inviting atmosphere.
Plans call for making this area the heartbeat of the hotel and the neighborhood, where guests and locals alike can grab coffee or a drink, hold a meeting in one of the six- to 10-person studios or grab a bite in the new Spanish-inspired restaurant.
Room renovations are almost done:
The 1,000 guest rooms are getting a complete renovation to a more modern motif.
Out are the dark doorways and carpet, taupe paint and bulky furniture of 2008. In are white doors, new beds, lighter paint colors, larger television screens and the addition of 14,042 USB and power outlets throughout the hotel.
The hotel is on schedule to complete the guest-room makeovers by early January and hopes to have its ground level complete by the second quarter of 2020.
How do they keep from disturbing guests?
Ehmann credits his team members, 85 of whom have been with the hotel since it opened, for keeping the hotel open during the renovation that at times had 75 to 100 construction workers onsite.
They can’t stop all of the construction from affecting guests. The restaurant is temporarily on the fourth floor and sheetrock walls in the lobby separate the construction work from the check-in area and coffee bar.
But the hotel has taken steps to keep guests from noticing the construction while in their rooms. Four of the 31 floors have been renovated at a time, with two floors vacant as a buffer between construction and guest rooms.
“There’s a lot of hard work again by our team that comes through to make everything happen, to think of all the details during the process. How do we provide the service that our customers expect?” Ehmann said.
What happens to all the old stuff?
The hotel has hired liquidators who dispose of old window treatments, flooring, fixtures, furniture and beds.
Some of the items get sold to other hotels, which buy used merchandise at discount prices. Other items are sold to the public through resale shops.
Some statistics about the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown’s renovation:
• 474 shower wands in the updated guest rooms.
• 1,163 proximity door locks for keyless entry.
• 10,000 feet of rope for décor accents and an art piece in the new lobby.
• 15,168 carpet tiles line the guest rooms.
• 35,105 more inches of television screens throughout the hotel.
TynanGroup is the Project Manager on the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Renovations.