HOUSTON: Royal Sonesta's Grand Entrance
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The Royal Sonesta is debuting its $25M renovation next week, one of the largest hotel renovations in Houston in years. It's also the brand's entry into the market. GM Monte Hansen tells us it's pretty much a new hotel now (a conversion from the Intercontinental), with a completely rebuilt lobby with a new bar, grab-and-go store, and restaurant, as well as and updated rooms. (Hopefully, they put a time capsule in the wall so future generations will know what it used to look like.) The brand is aiming to be cosmopolitan and urban with a European feel without being stuffy. Monte says its Houston entrance is just like being an independent hotel: You have to fight to make your mark and gain recognition.
The 485-key hotel features over 50k SF of meeting space, one of the largest offerings in the Uptown area. It benefits from a rare trait in the Houston metro--from it, you can walk to numerous restaurant and retail offerings, including BLVD Place and the upcoming River Oaks District. Monte tells us the hotel wants to be part of the evolution in Uptown and become a destination not just for travelers but also for locals, something it never was before. He tells us the biggest challenge of the renovations was staying open during construction. But it managed to actually raise its Trip Advisor rankings through the process, partially thanks to features like temporary walls that looked real with wallpaper and art.