How Properties Transformed Their Public Spaces

In the words of author J.K. Rowling, "A good first impression can work wonders." Hotel lobbies, bars and other public spaces are often a guest's first peek into the caliber of a property, which is one reason so many hotels and resorts spent the past year or more renovating and ramping up their open spaces. Those renovations have included everything from splashy new lobby bars where attendees can mingle to freshly minted new poolside cabanas waiting to welcome private groups.

Read on for the big reveal on ALHI member properties' public space renovations.

Luxurious Lobbies

The 1924-era Fairmont Olympic, Seattle upped its game with a restoration of its main lobby this April, as well as the introduction of a new lobby bar, Olympic Bar, both part of a larger $25 million renovation.

Olympic Bar

Olympic Bar, Fairmont Olympic, Seattle

"As soon as you step into the lobby featuring Olympic Bar, there is no question that you have arrived at the heart, soul and social hub of the city," said Sunny Joseph, Fairmont Olympic's general manager. "The space is designed to be Seattle's hotspot for locals, travelers and guests from around the world to meet, reconnect and exchange ideas while surrounded and inspired by the hotel's history and new glamour."

Olympic Bar pours craft cocktails, offers all-day dining seven days per weeks and hosts the hotel's renowned Afternoon Tea on Saturdays and Sundays by reservation. But the real show stopper is the kinetic art installation hanging over the bar. The nautical inspiration for the art piece stems from Fairmont Olympic's historic hotel logo of a ship. The design team used 400 pieces of materials such as wood, iron, sails and rope for the art piece, which is powered by motors.

Hotel guests can discover the hotel's heritage with a new history walk that spans the mezzanine level, including old photographs, artifacts and newspaper articles.

turtle bay

Lobby Bar, Turtle Bay Resort

Hawaii's Turtle Bay Resort, located on Oahu's North Shore, also incorporates local materials into its recent lobby redesign, such as organic fabrics and reclaimed wood. The lobby replaced walls with windows offering views of the beach, and also pays homage to its local art community with large-scale art pieces in the lobby crafted by Hawaii-based artists.

The lobby was set to debut this summer with two new large semi-private seating areas perfect for small groups as well as The Surf House a retail and gathering place featuring vintage surfing memorabilia.

Beyond the lobby is a terraced pool deck with a new adults-only pool. The pool deck also features new cabanas and a new pool bar. The events team is currently working on options to use the adults-only pool area as a buyout for group events.

The Langham, Boston took the wraps of its swank refreshed lobby in June, replete with a fireplace, generous seating options and a new concierge desk. Part of the hotel's restoration also includes a new destination bar with outdoor terrace, The Fed, which offers culinary options prepared by Chef Stephen Bukoff, head of the hotel's new Italian dining spot Grana. Attendees can take advantage of The Fed's outdoor setting as well as experience the family-style cuisine at Grana, housed in the former grand hall of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, sporting ornate chandeliers and a refined art collection.

Later this fall, The Langham will introduce The Langham Club, featuring a private space with food and beverage offerings, and also will debut a new pool, hot tub and fitness center.

PGA National Resort lobby

The Lobby at the PGA National Resort & Spa

A lobby renovation was also one of the core projects in PGA National Resort & Spa's $100 million dollar transformation. Located in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the hotel's redesigned grand lobby is a colorful take on the resort's '60s tropical concept, incorporating pink leather couches, rattan chairs and hibiscus flowers along the corridors, yet adding a touch of upscale elegance.

The resort now offers two new restaurant options. Acclaimed chef Lindsay Autry heads up the resort's ground floor eatery, Palm Terrace. In addition, Jeremy Ford, winner of Top Chef Season 13, is at the helm at the Ironwood Grill adjacent to the lobby.

The Biltmore, in Coral Gables, Fla., also enhanced its entry space during a recent multimillion-dollar redesign and restoration project. The property renovated its main lobby and also reworked a state-of-the-art 10,000 square feet gym adding new equipment.

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel

The Lobby at the Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel

Groups heading to San Francisco's The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel will be greeted by an updated lobby and Living Room. The lobby renovation features new furnishings and lighting, among other touches.

"The lobby was lightened and brightened with natural elements incorporated to create a sense of calm and serenity upon arrival, " said Jill Plemons, director of sales and marketing. To the left of the lobby is the new Living Room with several seating options for work or relaxation. "The Living Room is ideal for small welcome receptions and on-site registrations," according to Plemons.

The Redwood Room bar, open to groups for breakouts, was refreshed during the renovation. The Clift also recently introduced Fredericks, an on-site eatery featuring Chef Dan Corey, formerly of San Francisco's Michelin Star LUCE. "Fredericks is not open to the public for dinner currently, making it an ideal private area for group dinners or receptions," Plemons said.

Dining Debuts

Many other hotels spent the past year reworking their culinary and bar options. The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, Fla., included in its recent renovation a new pool bar with rooftop deck, the Beacon Pool Bar & Lookout, offering small bites and tropical cocktails overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

Don CeSar

The Don CeSar

"Our Beacon Lookout is the perfect place for gulf front receptions and small group gatherings," said Charles Kaval, director of catering sales. "The Lookout offers mixed lounge seating in the heart of Don CeSar's bustling pool scene, with unmatched views of the Gulf of Mexico's spectacular sunsets."

The Don CeSar also added a new restaurant, Society Table. Its Demonstration Room provides a dining space for private tastings, cooking classes and wine pairings. The Gatsby Room at Society Table offers two HD televisions and mixed table seating for up to 50 guests. There is also an updated private dining room in the fine-dining restaurant, Maritana.

Other public space renovations included updates to the Don Lobby Bar, Don Courtyard and Veranda, and the recent addition of the Sunset Deck with waterfront seating.

The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., expanded its off-site operations with the development of Via Flagler by The Breakers, a $30 million venture located just a few minutes from the resort, featuring an al fresco plaza with a collection of boutiques, eateries and residences. Via Flagler restaurant Henry's Palm Beach, which debuted last summer, offers semi-private dining for up to 24 guests.

The Breakers also redesigned 25 poolside bungalows, each of which can accommodate six guests, and multiple bungalows may be reserved to welcome up to 75 attendees, including use of the main pool deck area.

San Diego Mission Bay

Covewood at San Diego Mission Bay

San Diego Mission Bay recently debuted its $32 million transformation into an upscale Mediterranean-style resort. Additions include a new restaurant/bar space Plaza Del Sol with capacity for 150, and a completely transformed signature restaurant, now named Covewood. The property also added pool bar Solrisa.

"Covewood features a lot of open air, fire pits, fireplaces and indoor/outdoor access with a lot of breeze and sunshine," said George Allen, area director of sales and marketing. Covewood features three patios, with room for up to 75 attendees on each.

Mohegan Sun

TAO Asian Bistro & Lounge

Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., recently unveiled its TAO Asian Bistro & Lounge. This newly renovated 10,000-square-foot space completes the property's Sky Tower Hotel Lobby, and features 300 seats, four private dining areas that can accommodate groups, an Ink Lounge, a sushi bar and live entertainment provided by a DJ.

Property Updates

California's Langham, Pasadena in March 2021 unveiled the reimagined Horseshoe Garden, which dates to the opening of the property in 1914. The garden is surrounded by succulents and native California plants, and over the past 100 years has served as a popular garden for receptions. Today the space offers 15,000 square feet for events of any kind for up to 1,000 guests.

The property last year also restored its iconic Picture Bridge, a historic feature for nearly 90 years that stands as America's only covered Picture Bridge, and connects the hotel's main building with the tennis courts, Royce Manor and four hotel cottages. Along with a multimillion-dollar structural upgrade came the installation of replicas of the bridge's original 1933 oil paintings by resident landscape artist Frank M. Moore, depicting 20 California landscapes.

Stein Eriksen Lodge

"Stein's Living room" at the Stein Eriksen Lodge

Stein Eriksen Lodge, in Park City, Utah, underwent a $2 million renovation to its Mountain Lodge in 2020, including refinished walls, carpet, furniture and paint. New original artwork and a newly designed custom concierge desk handcrafted by local artisans are also highlights of the Mountain Lodge.

"We are thrilled to have the refresh complete and we are excited to welcome guests to 'Stein's living room' where we will continue to set the gold standard in luxury accommodations, amenities, and services," said Russ Olsen, CEO of Stein Collection.

The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.V., recently completed a renovation including upgrades to its locker rooms for the indoor pool and its tennis courts. The revamp also included upgrades to its conference center.