Germany: Soaring to New Heights

With Berlin set to resume its formal role as Germany's capital after the federal government moves there from Bonn by the turn of the century, the city remains a magnet for hotel development.

While plenty of hotel construction continues in and near the capital, a fair amount of lodging investment is also going into major cities in the eastern part of the country, which still suffers from a shortage of quality accommodations. And wherever the action is, the big chains are rushing in to operate the new hotels or put their flag on existing properties.

Among the most significant developments in Germany's lodging scene:

Kempinski Hotels this year opened a showpiece property, the 337-room Hotel Adlon Berlin, built on the site of the historic Hotel Adlon, which was destroyed by fire at the end of World War II.

Located next to the Brandenburg Gate along Unter den Linden, the new luxury hotel's guest units include two presidential suites, 13 Adlon suites, two handicapped-accessible rooms and 39 rooms and suites with living/working areas and special amenities for corporate travelers.

Public areas include a fitness center/spa with pool, whirlpool, steambath, sauna, solarium and massage facilities; a gourmet and a casual restaurant; a dozen function rooms for groups of 10 to 500; several bars, and a business center.

Kempinski Hotels bought the rights to the Adlon name from the widow of the man who owned the original Adlon Hotel, and decided to build on the same site, because of the illustrious history of the previous property.

Originally built in 1907, the first Adlon was considered one of the world's premier hotels for decades, attracting royalty, heads of state, film stars and corporate titans.

All of the new hotel's guest rooms are at least 430 square feet in size; an electronic key card system turns on the lights, air conditioning and music in the room when the guest opens the door.

Guests are each assigned a private fax number, and each room has its own fax machine, as well as a cellular phone, CD player, two ISDN phone lines with voicemail, personal safe, minibar and dataport. Some rooms will have hypoallergenic fabrics and pillows. The hotel's ballroom is surrounded by two winter gardens similar to those in the original Adlon.

Kempinski also opened a country property, the 162-room Kempinski Hotel Sporting Club Berlin, a sports and fitness resort 45 miles southeast of Berlin.

Located on the banks of Lake Scharmutzel in the Bad Saarow region, the property offers a wide range of sports options and instruction, including two 18-hole golf courses, with a third to open next year; two golf schools; six indoor and eight outdoor tennis courts and a Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy; the Alwin Schockemohle Riding Centre, and the Peter Overschmidt Sailing School and Club.

All guest rooms at the hotel have air conditioning, TV, two phones, voicemail, fax and PC connections and an in-room safe.

Hyatt International will make its presence felt in Berlin late in 1998, when it expects to cut the ribbon on its new 346-room Grand Hyatt Berlin, part of the Potsdamer Platz redevelopment project in the heart of the city and the first Grand Hyatt in Europe.

The Grand Hyatt will have a Regency Club with 52 upgraded rooms and suites and a private lounge; it will also offer two presidential suites, five executive suites, 10 junior suites, a rooftop fitness center with indoor pool, gymnasium and beauty salon as well as sauna and steam rooms, whirlpool and massage.

The Hyatt's grand ballroom will hold up to 660 persons and offer views of the Potsdamer Platz. A variety of restaurants and bars will include a 24-hour cafe; a specialty restaurant with open kitchen and sushi bar, bookable for special groups; a lobby lounge and cafe, and a Russian deli.

Another fast-growing U.S. chain recently gained a foothold in Berlin without waiting to build: Seattle-based Westin Hotels has taken over operation of the 358-room Grand Hotel, located near the Brandenburg Gate at the intersection of Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse, and renamed it the Westin Grand. The hotel was built in 1987 by the former East German government as a luxury showplace for East Berlin. Westin said it will spend $10 million to make improvements to the hotel's lobby, guest rooms and hallways, to reconfigure its meeting space and to install technical improvements.

Westin did the same thing in another hot hotel market, the eastern city of Dresden, where it put the Westin flag on the 339-room Hotel Bellevue. The largest hotel in the city, the newly named Westin Bellevue is on the left bank of the Elbe River, with views of the city skyline. It was built in the early 1980s around a restored 18th-century house.

Westin's $20 million renovation plans for the Bellevue include refurbishment of all guest rooms, public areas, restaurants and meeting rooms along with an upgrade of its spa/health club and installation of technical improvements.

Germany's Steigenberger Hotels also moved into Dresden this year with the acquisition of the six-year-old Flamberg Hotel. It's now called the Steigenberger Parkhotel Dresden-Radebeul.

The four-star property, built in the style of a northern Italian villa, has 202 rooms and suites in the main hotel building. It also has a conference center with 14 meeting rooms. The extensive recreational area is highlighted by a 25-meter swimming pool surrounded by a whirlpool, sauna, solarium, Turkish bath, fitness room and "vitamin bar."

The Steigenberger complex also includes 216 one- and two-bedroom apartment units built into nine villas adjacent to the hotel.

Another new Dresden hotel this year bears another chain's banner: Radisson Hotels opened the doors of the 98-room Radisson SAS Gewandhaus Hotel Dresden. The hotel is located in the Old Town's Altmarkt, next to the Rathaus and the Kreuzkirche and a short walk from the Semer Opera House. The hotel features an all new interior. The structure was built in 1770, and although its historic facade has been preserved, the interior was left as an empty shell after a World War II bombing.

Its rooms and suites are furnished in the Biedermeier style, but come equipped with air conditioning, TV, two phones with ISDN connection, fax and dataports, coffee machine, safe, trouser press and large marble bathroom.

The hotel also has a restaurant, bar, five conference rooms with current meeting technology, a business center, heated pool, sauna, solarium and fitness center and round-the-clock room service.

A lower-priced option that opened this year in Dresden is the 132-room Ramada Hotel Garni Dresden, located in an office/retail complex 15 minutes' walk from the city center and about a half-mile from the ICE railroad station. All rooms have a TV, large desk, minibar and separate fax connection.

In nearby Leipzig, Marriott Lodging opened a five-star hotel, its sixth property in Germany. The 231-room Leipzig Marriott is located in the center of town across from the main railway station. Guest rooms are equipped with modem ports and minibars, and the hotel also has executive rooms and an executive lounge on its sixth floor.

The Leipzig Marriott has a business center, two restaurants, room service and a health club with pool, whirlpool, sauna and exercise room, along with 5,400 square feet of meeting space.

The hotel takes up about two-thirds of an office complex that is within walking distance of such attractions as the Grassi-Museum, Gewandhaus Concert Hall, zoo and St. Thomas Church.

Meanwhile, its sister company, Courtyard by Marriott, is making a major push into Germany as part of a new development deal with Germany's Seidler Hotels Group-Unicon GmbH. The venture calls for Unicon Hotel Consulting to develop and franchise 15 Courtyard properties in central Europe over the next five years, mainly in Germany.

The first of the 15 new Courtyard by Marriott hotels is now under construction in the spa town of Baden-Baden, with an opening slated for August 1998.

The Baden-Baden Courtyard by Marriott will have 149 rooms, 10 executive suites and a presidential suite, as well as an American-style restaurant, a cafe, a reading room and six meeting rooms for up to 150 people.

Health-related facilities in the hotel will include a fitness center, whirlpool spa, sauna and massage facilities.

Another Courtyard by Marriott, with 160 rooms, will open in Essen in 1999. The Essen Hotel will be on Kruppstrasse, about a half-mile from the central train station.

Hyatt International is moving into more than just Berlin next year. It plans an early 1998 opening for the 252-room Park Hyatt Hamburg, the chain's first boutique-style property in Germany.

The Park Hyatt will occupy the top five floors of the Levantehaus, a structure dating back to 1911, when it opened as a combination warehouse/office. The Levantehaus is located along the Monckebergstrasse, a major retail area; the building's lower floors will house an upscale shopping arcade.

The hotel's 252 rooms will include 21 junior suites, three executive suites and a presidential suite. Upscale Regency Club rooms with their own private lounge also will be available.

All rooms will have three phones, dataports, TV, safe, minibar and coffee machine; some will also have Jacuzzis.

The Park Hyatt's health club features a pool, saunas, steam baths, beauty salon and exercise room, and meeting facilities can accommodate groups of up to 225.

Marriott recently made an innovative change at its Frankfurt Marriott Hotel, where it has set aside 20 of the 588 guest rooms specifically for women travelers.

The rooms, available at no extra charge, have such amenities as plush bathrobes, women's magazines, bath and cosmetics products from Lancaster, skirt hangers and nightly turn-down service.

Frankfurt is the venue for one big, new hotel: Construction has been under way for the past year on the deluxe Frankfurt City Hilton, a 345-room property going up on the site of the old municipal baths on Frankfurt's Eischenhaimer Turm.

It's due to open in 1999, operated under a long-term lease by Hilton International, which already has properties in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Weimar and Dresden, and two hotels in both Munich and Mainz.

Located within five minutes of Frankfurt's financial district and its Old Opera House, the Frankfurt City Hilton will have a business center with 10 meeting rooms; a health club with indoor pool; two restaurants; two bars and a ballroom accommodating up to 400 persons.

Hyatt International's third new entry in the German lodging market next year will be the 269-room Hyatt Regency Mainz, set for a February debut.

It is being built as part of historic Fort Malakoff along the banks of the Rhine, and will be linked by a shopping arcade to a commercial/office complex.

The lobby and most guest rooms will offer views of the river, and so will the hotel's Cafe Restaurant, which features a large outdoor terrace; and most of its meeting rooms.

The hotel will have a large business center, nine suites and 35 Regency Club rooms and suites with private lounge. Its fitness center will offer a lap pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, massage facilities and exercise room.

* * *

Hilton: (800) 445-8667

Hyatt International: (800) 223-1234

Kempinski Hotels: (800) 426-3135

Marriott Lodging: (800) 228-9290

Radisson Hotels: (800) 333-3333

Ramada: (800) 272 6232

Steigenberger Hotels: (800) 223-5652

Westin Hotels: (800) 228-3000

* * *

Brochures available from the German National Tourist Office in connection with some of its 1998 promotions include:

  • Castles, Royal Palaces and Stately Homes in Germany. This 40-page publication lists the country's most notable landmark historic residences.
  • The German City Experience. This 106-page booklet offers travel tips, sightseeing highlights and other information on 39 German cities most popular with tourists.
  • Welcome to the German Spas. This brochure explains the differences among the four types of spas in Germany and includes a map showing the locations of major spas.
  • Comments
    JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI