The Warwick Hotel’s floor plan resulted in many different guestroom configurations, requiring many pieces of custom furniture and a creative approach to design in many rooms.
Philadelphia–Beginning with the Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago, Carlson has been intent on increasing the presence of the traditionally European Radisson Blu brand in the U.S. The newest addition to this line of hotels is the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia.
Originally constructed in 1926 as the Warwick Hotel, the building is registered on the city’s list of historic properties and is owned by the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. The hotel became the Radisson Plaza Warwick Hotel Philadelphia in 2004, and just recently completed a second renovation to become a Radisson Blu hotel. The first was a $30-million update in 2007 that replaced the inner-workings of the building, focusing on bathroom tile, HVAC and electrical concerns, while the second was to elevate the property’s design aesthetic to match the standard found in Radisson Blu properties.
With that update complete, the hotel took on another renovation to finish its transformation into a Radisson Blu. Beginning in February 2013, $20 million was poured into the guestrooms, hallways and lobby, all geared toward updating guest touchpoints such as amenities and decor. Renovations to the 301 guestrooms were completed by June 2013, and all of the designs were spearheaded by Jim Hamilton of Graven Images, designer of the Radisson Blu Aqua and the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.
A different look in every room
“Our number-one complaint for the guestrooms was lack of enough light,” said Joanne Cunningham, GM of the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel. “All the bathrooms have new lighting now, and a new low-sitting vanity.”
Due to the building’s construction, very few rooms share a consistent layout from floor to floor. Because of this, the designer of the property was forced to order custom furniture for nearly every room.
“The designer was very space conscious of both the bathrooms and the rooms because they are not all the same cube, and things are not all in the same place,” said Sharon Foster, director of sales for the hotel.
While renovating the guestrooms was easy, work was stalled slightly on the lobby. “We were able to shut down one guestroom floor at a time in between construction to reduce the noise level, but the lobby was much more visible,” Cunningham said. “It came to a point where we walled off the entire lobby, and some guests didn’t even know it was there until we finished and took the partitions down.”
A Reborn Lobby
Of the total cost of the renovation, more than $2.5 million was allocated to the hotel’s lobby, which was updated with a modern aesthetic while retaining classic touches from the historical property’s past, such as cast iron balcony railings and ornate oil paintings. Designers replaced a hanging chandelier with multiple modern spheres of light, and on the walls are bolded words telling the story of two brothers speaking to one another as a tribute to Philadelphia. Venetian plaster was also retained, and the hotel’s designers decided to reveal the nearly 20-foot floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby that were previously hidden.
The hotel lobby has a new modern design, and two blocked fireplaces were reopened.
“Large draperies used to cover the windows, which are now uncovered,” Cunningham said. Radisson also refinished the glass, which is the same glass used since the windows’ production in 1926. “The hotel’s lobby height reaches to the third floor, and the windows are almost as tall,” Cunningham said. “The goal was to provide as much natural light as possible.” The lobby’s front desk was also relocated to a personal check-in area so the main lobby space can be used as a social setting, with more available seating than before.
The hotel lobby is also home to two fireplaces that have been in the same position since the hotel’s original opening. Both fireplaces were previously sealed during past renovations, but now are unsealed and ready for use for the first time in 25 years. A third fireplace is located in the hotel’s ballroom, and will be unsealed during planned future renovations.
Changes to come
These future renovations are already in the works, and are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2014, targeting the hotel’s 17,000 square feet of meeting space and all three of its F&B outlets.
According to Cunningham, Philadelphia locals are excited that the update has retained the character of the original hotel. “There are people in the community with generational ties to the Warwick,” Cunningham said. “There are a lot of memories to uphold.”