7 of the Most Expensive Hotel Renovations Ever

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TEXT BY STEFANIE WALDEK for ArchitecturalDigest.com. Posted July 2, 2018

Ever wonder how hotels keep up with emerging trends in both decor and technology? Well, it’s not really much of a surprise. They are constantly refreshing their properties, with small updates happening each year, and more substantial revamps occurring every seven to ten years on average. Then, once in a while, a hotel will undergo a massive renovation that often closes the property to business for years—and costs hundreds of millions of dollars. Here we take a look at seven hotel renovations that cost mind-boggling sums.

The Savoy, London: $350 Million

With a 128-year history, the Savoy is famous for a number of firsts: It was the first luxury hotel in Britain, the first hotel with electric elevators, and the first hotel to install telephones in every bathroom. It was also the first London hotel to have undergone a £220 million renovation (that’s approximately $350 million). The Savoy shut down in 2007 for the first time since it opened in 1889, reopening three years later with entirely refurbished interiors by designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who maintained the hotel’s signature Edwardian and Art Deco influences.

JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Florida: $320 Million

In January 2017 the Marriott brand reopened the former Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa as a JW Marriott property—one of the luxury franchises within the hotel conglomerate’s portfolio. The hotel has been undergoing renovations since 2015, and though the property is currently open, the final phase, which will see the Lanai Tower (home to adults-only hotel rooms, a celebrity chef–helmed restaurant, a virtual entertainment center, and a meeting space) completed, is expected to wrap up this year.

The Watergate Hotel, Washington, D.C.: $200 Million

The infamous Watergate Hotel, opened in 1967, shuttered for nine years during its massive overhaul, opening in 2016 to much fanfare. Ron Arad spearheaded the new look of the hotel’s public spaces, which puts a contemporary touch on the hotel’s '60s-era vibe. You’ll find nods to the past in the staff’s uniforms, too, as Rakel Cohen, senior vice president of design and development at Euro Capital Properties (which restored the hotel), tapped Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant to create them.

Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara, California: $134 Million

In one of the longer hotel renovations on our list, Belmond El Encanto spent seven years refurbishing its historic property, which originally opened in 1918 and debuted its newest look in 2013. Situated on a hilltop in Santa Barbara, the Spanish Colonial–style hotel comprises 92 guest bungalows (how California chic!), an indoor/outdoor restaurant, a lounge, and a spa. Over the course of its nearly century-long past, it’s been a hot spot for celebrities ranging from Clark Gable to Barbra Streisand.

Peninsula Beijing: $123 Million

The first Western luxury hotel to open in Beijing, in 1989, the Peninsula has been a key player in the city’s hotel scene for nearly three decades, and it just unveiled a $123 million makeover in April 2017. This wasn’t just a simple update to the hotel’s decor, either. The hotel downsized from 525 rooms to 230, meaning many have nearly doubled in size. (The smallest room is 650 square feet—the approximate size of an average one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan). The renovation also outfitted the hotel with new technology, from tablet-carrying staff that serve as a front desk/concierge combination to complete integration in the rooms, like a control panel that can be converted into multiple languages.

Atlantis, the Palm, Dubai: $100 Million

Though it was only constructed in 2008, the Atlantis, the Palm, resort is in the midst of a three-year, $100 million renovation that will see updates to each and every one of its 1,539 rooms. But, impressively, it will remain open the entire time. How? Only 50 rooms and suites will be renovated at a time, over the course of a six-week period. On top of the accommodations, several of the property’s 23 dining options will also be revamped. The entire renovation will be complete by 2019, just in time for the 2020 World Expo, which will be held in Dubai.

Raffles Hotel Singapore: ??

Singapore’s grand dame last underwent a major renovation in 1991, on which its owners spent S$160 million, or approximately $280 million, but it’s currently undergoing a new revamp that will see nearly the entire property upgraded, from the lighting on the building’s exterior to the landscaping to the addition of new buildings. Champalimaud is leading the interior renovation; they are no strangers to updating historic luxury hotels, working on the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Pierre in New York, among many others. Though Raffles won’t disclose the total sum of this renovation, we’ve confirmed that it’ll cost more than the previous renovation, earning the hotel a spot on this list.