Ritz-Carlton, Dallas completes $9-million upgrade

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The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas unveiled the fruits of a $9 million upgrade, an addition of high-end perks and new technology designed to give the luxury property a more contemporary feel and to appeal to an increasingly younger customer base, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The addition of touches, such as mother-of-pearl wall coverings, hardwood floors and new carpeting, marks the first major makeover since Fort Worth-based Crescent Plaza Hotel Owner opened the property in August 2007.

The upgrade at the only Ritz-Carlton in Texas comes as both occupancy and room rates continue to climb from recession-induced lows.

“The luxury market came back very strong and very fast, and since then we haven’t slowed down,” said general manager Roberto van Geenen, who was among the first employees hired to launch the hotel.

“It’s pretty rare that we’re not 100 percent full,” he said. “We are a destination for very high-end business travelers, but also we’re seeing more and more high-end leisure travelers that are coming to discover Dallas just because of the developments in our area.

“This area has exploded,” he added. “People that I talk to are thrilled to see what an exciting city Dallas is today vs. 20 years ago.”

The Ritz is not alone in enjoying stepped up interest. For the 12 months that ended in August 2015, the luxury occupancy rate nationwide hit an all-time high of 75.2 percent, said Bobby Bowers of STR, formerly Smith Travel Research.

Going rate for glam

The Ritz’s update, which includes new sand-toned furniture in the lobby and Texas bluebonnet themed-carpet in the halls and guest rooms, is designed to give the hotel a “refined, very contemporary feel,” said Noeha Coutry, director of sales and marketing, who also was among the first employees.

The hotel’s 218 guest rooms and suites include the 2,385-square-foot Ritz-Carlton suite. That upscale home away from home includes a living room with a new leather-bound wine cabinet, dining room with chandelier, kitchen with a full-sized fridge and study with working fax machine and printer.

New are the mother-of-pearl wall coverings and electric bathroom mirrors with adjustable lighting and a built-in TV.

Even at $5,000 a night, it’s nearly always taken, Coutry said, adding “we’re evaluating an increase” in price, post-renovation.

An Internet search of hotel room rates in October finds rates for the entry-level rooms at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas going for about $500 to $600 a night. That’s pretty rarefied air.

For the first half of 2015, the average rate per night for a five-star hotel in the Uptown/Oak Lawn area was about $440, according to Hotels.com.

Year-to-date in August, the average daily luxury rate nationwide was $313.85, Bowers said, up nearly 5 percent compared with a year ago.

New clientele

The Ritz’s renovation project began in early July and as of Thursday was “about 99 percent” complete, Coutry said. The upgrade follows closely on the heels of the hotels’ switch to Internet TVs that allow guests to sign into their Netflix or Hulu accounts.

Van Geenen said the Dallas Ritz was one of the first major hotels in the country to add that amenity.

Next comes a 7-foot-tall tequila armoire, which will be positioned in the lobby each evening at 6 and will feature up to 70 tequila varieties, he said.

The updates coincide with the hotel’s youth movement.

“As time marches on, our clientele is getting younger,” said van Geenen. “Three years from today, 75 percent of [guests] will be below the baby boomer generation.”

That includes locals who visit the hotel spa and Chef Dean Fearing’s restaurant.

“We’re very much supported by the local community,” van Geenen said. “We knew this would be a great location for our company.”

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