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Older Hotels Sprucing Up To Stay Competitive

So many hotels have opened in metro Denver in recent years that many existing properties are spending millions of dollars sprucing up their lobbies, rooms and amenities in an effort to stay competitive.

Guests are encouraged to use the Royal typewriter at The Oxford Hotel.

Four years ago, Sage Hospitality opened The Crawford Hotel in Denver’s historic Union Station. Last year, the Denver-based company opened The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block just a few blocks away. In between the two is the 127-year-old Oxford, the city’s oldest hotel, also owned and operated by Sage.

The Oxford recently “refreshed” its 80 rooms, individually styling each one so that guests conceivably could have a different experience every time they visit the hotel.

“That’s unique because in most guest room refreshes in most hotels, you’re going to copy along the way,” Sage Hospitality Regional Vice President of Operations Fred Kleisner said.

The Cruise Room in The Oxford Hotel is an Art Deco martini bar modeled after a lounge on the Queen Mary.

The company also renovated the hotel's lobby, spa and fitness center, taking a modern classic approach that Kleisner describes as analog. The area surrounding the front desk is a coffee gathering spot and the hotel operates a bourbon bar off the lobby in the evenings.

The room keys are real keys with tassels on them. And it found a vintage Royal typewriter, now residing on the mezzanine, that guests are encouraged to use. Also on the desk is a letter press with the Oxford’s emblem. The hotel will even mail a letter free of charge for its guests.

“In today’s techno universe, there are moms and dads who will bring their kids here,” Kleisner said. “There’s a younger demographic that has never pressed a key.”

The lobby of the Courtyard Marriott Denver Downtown was renovated to have the feel of a boutique hotel.

The Crawford and Maven are far from the only hotels opening in the region in recent years — and more are on the way, including the 1,500-room Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center set to open by the end of the year near Denver International Airport. All told, there are 3,862 rooms under construction, according to a Q4 report from CBRE Hotels and CBRE Econometric Advisors.

That has prompted several convention hotels in the region to undergo renovations, including Denver Marriott Tech Center and Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel.

The Denver Marriott Tech Center renovations included the transformation of five residential suites with full kitchens, living rooms and workspaces, plus 36 studio suites. All of the new guest rooms have Colorado art, 49-inch and larger flat-screen TVs and renovated bathrooms with high-end fixtures. The hotel's 50K SF of meeting space has been updated in mineral tones, including the Evergreen Ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. 

The Renaissance Denver Stapleton's $15M renovation included all 400 guest rooms; 40K SF of meeting spaces, including the ballroom; the lobby and public spaces; and a new restaurant concept called Fifty300 featuring American regional cuisine with an Italian influence.

“Often hotel renovations are almost defensive in nature, and I think we’ve seen a number of renovation projects, particularly of large convention hotels, in the last couple of years because of that,” CBRE Hotels Senior Vice President Larry Kaplan said. “Those were likely defensive in nature to get ahead of the Gaylord.”

The Residence Inn by Marriott Denver City Center recently completed $6.2M in upgrades to its 228 guest rooms.

The Residence Inn by Marriott recently completed a $6.2M renovation that included modernization of its 228 rooms and hallways. Each suite includes a full-size kitchen with granite countertops, dishwasher and refrigerator and a living room with modern furniture and dedicated workspace.

The Courtyard by Marriott Denver Downtown's recent multimillion-dollar renovation was designed to honor the hotel's architectural history. The building was originally designed by Denver architect Frank E. Edbrooke in 1887 and was home to Joslins Department Store for much of the 1900s.

The renovations give The Courtyard more of a boutique hotel feel, said Stasia Patience, area director of sales for Courtyard Marriott Denver Downtown, Residence Inn Marriott Denver City Center, Spring Hill Suites Marriott Denver Downtown at MSU Denver and Townplace Suites Marriott Denver Downtown.

“Our customers have gotten very savvy, and I think they’re looking for shiny new product, and I think that helps,” Patience said.

CORRECTION, MAY 31, 3:27 P.M. MT: A previous version of this story had some of the features of one renovation attributed to another hotel. The story has been updated.