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VOL. 127 | NO. 153 | Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hotel Makeover

The signature Peabody hotel readies for major renovation

By Andy Meek

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The editors of TripAdvisor, the world’s largest Internet website devoted to travel, think the South’s Grand Hotel is one of the top 10 “quirkiest lodgings in America.”

The Peabody hotel is preparing for renovations this fall that will see changes in every room and some of the public spaces.

(Daily News File Photo: Brandon Dill)

In recent days, they posted to TripAdvisor a list of 10 properties, including The Peabody, which they say offer travelers “outlandish accommodations and extraordinary experiences.”

If the TripAdvisor editors liked what they see now at The Peabody, they’re liable to be even more impressed soon. The hotel is a few months away from a major upgrade, one that’s been in the works for the last few years and the design part of which has been a year in the making.

A six-month renovation that will touch all 464 guest rooms gets under way around Nov. 1 and will take about six months to complete. The project, for which the hotel is not releasing a price tag except to refer to it as “expensive,” also will change out many things in the guest hallways like carpet, wallpaper, paint and pictures.

Among the few things not being touched in the guestrooms are the big features of the bathrooms, things like the sink, toilets and bathtubs, which are relatively new.

“We did those about five or six years ago,” said Peabody general manager Doug Browne.

“The nice thing is everything in the room is custom. There’s nothing in the rooms that’ll be off the shelf. Another thing I think for me is important is that the design element of the rooms goes back to the roots of the hotel. It has more of a historic look. It has a very luxury, elegant, classy, historic feel to it. Very traditional. Which is really nice.”

Most hotels renovate every six to eight years or so. It was “just time” for Memphis, Browne said.

The Peabody upgraded the TVs in guestrooms to 42-inch flat screens about two years ago, but the renovation also will include beefing up the hotel’s TV system so that guests will be able to perform tasks from the TV like ordering room service and getting telephone messages.

The guest room windows, which haven’t been replaced since the early 1980s, are being replaced, too.

464 guest rooms at The Peabody hotel are set for renovations, including this king room.

(Photo Courtesy of The Peabody Memphis)

“Obviously, technology on windows and stuff like that has improved incredibly in that time,” Browne said. “So we hope that that will bring a lot better energy savings, and noise reduction will be increased in a big way. We’re really excited about the windows.”

The designer is a firm out of Atlanta, Hirsch Bedner Associates. The contractor, York Construction, is local.

The renovation follows a $450 million upgrade in recent years to The Peabody Orlando, one of several hotels within Memphis-based Peabody Hotel Group’s portfolio. Among other things, the project called for current guest rooms to be renovated to include 42-inch LCD TVs, iPod docking stations and 19-inch LCD TVs in bathroom mirrors.

“The designer has done two model rooms for us,” Browne said of the Memphis project. “And the idea of that is so we can see exactly how the room’s going to look and make sure that everything fits properly and works right and is to the quality that we want it to be. And the good news on that is the sales department also gets to show it to clients who are booking rooms for the future.”

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