A Hotel Renovation Inspired by a City and Its People

By Gino Caliendo General Manager, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront | November 20, 2016

Embarking on a major hotel renovation can be an exciting endeavor. When we began formulating our renewed vision for the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in 2014, we were mindful of a dual responsibility: projecting the image of the regency brand while also infusing into the plan the personality and flavor of a unique surrounding region and its people. Now that the project is complete, others in the industry may benefit from learning about how we achieved those objectives.

In all, the year-long renovation included a floor-to-ceiling overhaul of all 951 guest rooms, corridors, the roof-top fitness center, select meeting spaces and more. We sought to achieve an enhanced guest experience amid an inspiring setting overlooking the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville.

Reflecting the River City

To understand the visual themes for our renovation, it is important to understand Jacksonville itself. In land area, it is the largest city in the contiguous United States, and in population, it is the largest city in Florida. It stretches from the Atlantic beaches to its inland downtown area and beyond. While Florida typically conjures up images of tropical landscapes and palm trees, Jacksonville is different; it offers a mixture of palms, pines and towering live oaks within a city that boasts the nation’s largest urban park system.

With a recorded history stretching back to the 16th century, the city is rich in its heritage of both Florida lifestyle and true Southern charm. Jacksonville has become a city with many unique neighborhoods, an exciting metropolitan center and a vibrant arts scene.

But the crowning jewel of Jacksonville is the historic St. Johns River, which runs through the very center of downtown. No fewer than seven bridges span its waters. The most iconic of all, the Main Street Bridge, lies virtually at the doorstep of the Hyatt Regency, which is situated on the river’s north bank. Known by many as the “blue bridge, ” its vibrant color was adopted as a key element in the scheme for our redesign efforts.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.