Looney & Associates transforms Royal Sonesta Houston

The Royal Sonesta Hotel Houston is undergoing a $25-million renovation. The endeavor will focus on interior spaces, spanning the lobby, all 485 guestrooms, food and beverage outlets, 50,000 square feet of meeting and event venues, plus a substantial enhancement of existing amenities, such as the rooftop swimming pool.

Many aspects of the renovation, from the sculptural light fixtures to the contemporary lobby and guestroom art, reflect the influence of science and technology. The overhaul is not a facelift but a reinvention of the hotel.

Royal Sonesta Houston kicked off the renovation in June, with the majority of work slated for completion by early fall 2013.

Royal Sonesta Hotel Houston tasked Dallas-based design firm Looney & Associates, whose work includes The Osprey at Beaver Creek in Colorado, the Ventana Inn and Spa in Big Sur, California, and the Park Hyatt New York in Manhattan and in the Houston area, to transform the building.  Rather than relying on heritage and overt Texas references, the design company's scheme is flavored by the principles that make Houston a leader in energy, medicine and space exploration, as well as a cosmopolitan, future-leaning destination.


Looney & Associates sought to create an environment that is contemporary without being cold through the use of contrasting textures and a warm color palette, in addition to a mix of metal finishes and wood tones. One of the major challenges of the project was addressing scale by introducing intimacy and concentrated energy in vast public spaces, while creating perceived volume related to ceiling heights in the guestrooms and hallways.

Two lobby areas – one currently in a great room format for the hotel, and a second adjoining reception/pre-function area for the meeting and event facilities – are being retooled in the new design, while preserving significant architectural features. In the hotel portion, the alcove ceiling will remain, a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows will become a feature with decorative screening, and a dedicated reception area with back-lit desk will be created. The current bar is being reconfigured to accommodate a grab-and-go concept. The new bar will be relocated to become a focal point of a central lounge anchored by custom carpeting that incorporates a science and astronomy theme.

The meeting and event reception area will be reoriented to highlight the grand staircase and open mezzanine with the addition of seating vignettes that activate the formerly bare space. The myriad of flexible function and ballrooms will also be upgraded. Predominant colors throughout the first floor will include an earth mix of chocolate, taupe and cream with pops of sapphire. Lighting elements will be sculptural, incorporating star-like qualities. Custom carpeting will depict Houston as viewed from space.


An all-new experience will be provided to travelers on the guestroom and club floors beginning with hallways that favor a color scheme of grays paired with chrome lighting and furniture accents. An orbital carpeting pattern will segue to a honeycomb geometric in the rooms that have furniture that evokes a residential rather than institutional feel. The installation will not only maximize the space, but the pieces, which include a sectional sofa in the king rooms, will visually elongate and heighten the accommodations. The adjoining bathrooms will also be remodeled, continuing the residentially-inspired fit and finish.

The current rooftop pool with separate Jacuzzi will be elevated to urban resort status thanks to new furniture and surfaces. The changes will create a guest retreat during daylight hours and support the dual use of the rooftop level as an event space in the evenings. The adjacent, 24-hour fitness center will also be refreshed.

Sonesta Collection is a collection of upscale hotels, resorts, cruise ships and extended stay hotels.

The Royal Sonesta Hotel Houston is situated at the gateway to the Uptown District and just steps from the famed Galleria complex. Within walking distance of the shops and restaurants of Post Oak Boulevard and Westheimer, the property will maintain its striking, modern façade that features 23 stories fronting the 610 Loop. Rebranded in 2012 as the first and only full service Royal Sonesta in Texas, it is located in close proximity to an extended stay, sister property, Sonesta ES Suites Houston.


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