SAN FRANCISCO -- A
sneak peek at the JW Marriott here is effectively a peek at the
entire Marriott brand.
The property is
undergoing its largest renovation ever, a $25 million project that
will add lobby and room features that are expected to become
standard chainwide in Marriott properties in the next two
renovation is completed in April, the San Francisco hotel will be
one of the first of the JW Marriotts with the chain's new "great
room" concept, where the restaurant, lobby and cocktail lounge
merge into one large space.
Over the course of
the day, the room will morph from breakfast room in the morning to
a cafe and lunch spot in the afternoons to a casual lounge in the
evening with a communal table and space for those who want to use
their laptops or meet friends or business associates.
The cost of the JW
Marriott San Francisco's lobby makeover alone will be in the $4
global general managers' conference last year in San Francisco,
where the great room concept was unveiled, Marriott executives
cited studies showing that business travelers were meeting
associates in more casual environments, looking for a setting akin
to a Starbucks where they can have a cup of coffee, a quick snack
and access the Internet. The Marriott lobby concept, which includes
the lounge areas for low-key meals and beverages, aims to fill that
The first Marriott
to feature a great room was the Renaissance Times Square in New
York, which was remodeled last year.
The San Francisco
JW Marriott, formerly the Pan Pacific, was designed by renowned
architect John Portman, who created the first atrium-style hotel,
the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, in 1967 and later designed iconic
hotels such as the Bonaventure in Los Angeles.
The San Francisco
property, which opened in 1987, was intended to be the first in
Portman's own hotel chain, but the venture did not take off. Pan
Pacific Hotels managed the property from 1990 until 2006. Ashford
Hospitality Trust acquired the hotel in 2006 and signed the
contract with JW Marriott, which then took over the
The features from
the Portman era that will remain are a lobby fireplace, the hotel
lobby's signature "Joie de Danse" sculpture and, of course, the
soaring atrium, now painted in brighter colors that open up and
enhance the space.
"We're being very
true to the original architecture while bringing in a fresher,
lighter and sophisticated look," said Joel Costa, director of sales
The 14,000 square
feet of meetings space was redone last fall. A makeover of the
guest rooms was completed in December.
Among the additions
that are part of Marriott's new chainwide standards are flat-screen
TVs connected to a new technology system that enables guests to
plug laptops into a panel and view TV programming and their laptop
data on the TV screens simultaneously. Guests also can plug
electronic devices such as camcorders, digital cameras and iPods
into the panel and use the TV screen for video and the TV's stereo
speakers for audio.
New JW Marriott
room standards called for 37-inch, flat-screen TVs and the
technology plug-in panel, but the San Francisco property upped the
size of its TV screens to 42 inches, Costa said.
contemporary furniture, including bedside reading lights, a large
desk and luxurious bedding, also part of Marriott's new chainwide
features, were added to rooms. The reading lights and large desk
are part of Marriott's push to meet the needs of business travelers
who are using their rooms as work places.
amenities are a Herman Miller desk chair, three telephones, voice
mail, in-room computer data ports and wireless Internet
The hotel's lavish
Olympic suite, on the 21st floor with views of San Francisco's
Union Square area, was redone with the same clean, modern decor as
the rest of the property.
A top-floor Club
Lounge, where a hot breakfast buffet, all-day snacks and beverages,
evening hors d'oeuvres and honor bar are available, opened in
December in the space of a large, former suite. Guests staying in
rooms on the new Club floors and Platinum and Gold Elite Marriott
Rewards members have access to the lounge; others can use the room
for an additional $75 a day.
An unusual feature
of the hotel is butler buttons in guest rooms. The buttons,
originally installed by Portman, summon butlers who cater to the
needs of guests 24 hours a day. Guests can also reach butlers via
The goal of the
project is to raise the standards of the hotel's luxury and service
in a more sophisticated and modern setting, Costa said. Rates will
rise with the renovation; starting rack rates are expected to be
$329 in the spring.
contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].