Luxury hotels set Warsaw debuts

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WARSAW -- Despite Poland's shaky economy, several long-planned, high-end hotels are set to open here in its still-bustling capital.

Hot on the heels of the Radisson SAS Centrum, which opened last September, new Westin and InterContinental properties -- along with a first-ever boutique entrant, the Hotel Rialto -- will debut later this year.

They join Grand Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Marriott and several other upper-tier brands with local properties.

Alex Kloszewski, general manager at the InterContinental Warsaw, said the hotels opening were planned in the booming mid-1990s.

"Occupancies were high and there was little five-star product available," he said. "Now we have inventory opening just as demand drops."

Kloszewski predicted a two-year drought before open-skies agreements and Poland's European Union accession spur more travel to Warsaw.

What this means for agents is there's going to be plenty of premium product available, at less-than-premium prices.

High-end skyscrapers

Starwood Hotels and Resorts' new Westin Warsaw Hotel, set just across the street from the Radisson SAS Centrum, will open in June as a 22-story, four-star landmark addition to the Warsaw skyline.

An $85 million investment, the hotel will boast 361 rooms, conference facilities, one restaurant and a fitness center.

Meanwhile, Six Continents' towering InterContinental Warsaw, already one of the tallest buildings in the city at 45 stories and 558 feet, will open Nov. 12.

The five-star property will offer 328 guest rooms and 75 extended-stay suites.

In addition to its height and design, the InterContinental Warsaw will stand out from the hotel crowd thanks to a two-floor, rooftop fitness and swim center, three on-site restaurants and a 175-car garage, said Kloszewski.

"When you take all that into consideration, along with our city center location, we have an advantage over [competitors]."

Boutique chic

The four-star, $21.5 million Hotel Rialto -- in a 1906 building near the business district -- is nearing completion.

The boutique hotel -- a Design Hotels affiliate -- is the first of its kind in Poland, and general manager John Quero said he hopes "to offer people who stay in five-star hotels -- such as the Grand Hyatt and Sheraton -- a new choice."

The Rialto itself falls just shy of a five-star ranking because it lacks an on-site pool; one might be built next year.

Despite the dip in business travel, Quero said the small, 45-room Rialto can prosper "if we can take a bit of business from each five-star here."

Pricing will be comparable to Warsaw's large luxury hotels, ranging from about $187 per night for singles, $240 for doubles/twins and $347 for one-bedroom suites.

Travel agent commission will be 10%; bookings already have been taken for stays after the planned May 16 opening.

Each of the hotel's rooms -- six singles, 28 doubles/twins, and 11 one-bedroom suites -- will offer unique furnishings.

An on-site inspection in mid-March revealed intricate mosaic tilework, wooden inlay, clawfoot bathtubs and marble flooring.

Overall, the hotel's look will be influenced by early 20th century and art deco design.

The property's five-star-quality amenities will include satellite TV; DVD/CD players and daily newspaper; twice-daily maid and 24-hour room service; and fitness and sauna/steam room access.

Local celebrity chef Kurt Scheller will oversee the Rialto's 50-seat restaurant, bar and cigar lounge.

For more on the Rialto, call (011) 48-22 628-4622 or visit www.hotelrialto.com.pl. Or, contact Design Hotels at (800) 337-4685 or www.designhotels.com.

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