The Hyatt Regency, Renewed

The Hyatt Regency, Renewed

Through a $25 million redesign, the Hyatt Regency looks to refresh its appeal to business travelers amid a lodging industry recovery.

The 30-year-old Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, now one of downtown Minneapolis’s oldest hotels, is due for a makeover, but it’s receiving a $25 million in head-to-toe plastic surgery instead.

Hotels operate on cycles, with smaller “soft-goods” renovations—replacing carpets and linens—every few years and larger, more capital-intensive updates every decade or so.

“It is our time to renovate and update the product, no question,” says general manager Randy Thompson. “I think that a recovery is soon to be upon us, if we’re not already in it, so this sets us up to take advantage of the lodging industry’s momentum.”

Benjamin Graves, president of Graves Hospitality Corporation, which is owner of the Graves 601 Hotel, echoes Thompson’s market assessment, noting that occupancy is returning to levels last seen in 2006. Rates, driven down as a swarm of new hotels saturated downtown during the economic downturn, are also showing signs of improvement.

“To maintain your level of occupancy, you have to have a fresh, unique product,” Graves explains. “Some markets are very tired—that’s not the case in Minneapolis. Everyone has either a new or new-like hotel.”

The Westin Minneapolis, Hotel Minneapolis, Hotel Ivy, Aloft, and W Minneapolis all opened between 2007 and 2008. The Hilton Minneapolis and Minneapolis Marriott City Center underwent major renovations in 2007. The eight-year-old Graves 601 recently redid its first floor, expanded and updated its Cosmos lounge, and added a $400,000 porte-cochère. And the Radisson Plaza will be renovated later this year.

The reworking of the 533-room Hyatt, slated for completion end of April, draws from Scandinavian and Nordic influences. The lobby’s focal point is a stone fireplace, and guest rooms will feature leather chairs, walnut desks, navy-blue carpeting, and original, Minneapolis-centric artwork. Beds include leather headboards, while revamped bathrooms feature locally quarried granite. Desks will feature “jack packs” that allow access to several outlets, allowing business travelers to charge electronic devices and use the in-room television as a computer monitor.

A new restaurant will be built in the space formerly occupied by Taxxi. “We’re going to create a bar-forward environment that will provide for greater activity in and around the lobby area—more visible, more inviting, more upscale,” Thompson says.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room vacated its longtime home in the Hyatt in January, and Thompson believes many guests who formerly dined there will try the new restaurant instead.