Normandie Hotel gets $6 million face-lift

CARIBBEAN BUSINESS
By : PROVIANA COLON DIAZ
Volume: 32 | No: 50
Page : 34
Issued : 12/16/2004

Hotel will feature terrace bar, lobby lounge, and new restaurant

“The glamour is back!” With that slogan, the Radisson Normandie opened its doors in 1989 after decades of abandonment. Now, it is the Normandie Hotel, and General Manager Thomas Pauly is doing all he can to revive the glamour and make the property Puerto Rico’s finest boutique hotel, including a $6 million renovation that should be completed by February.

The hotel’s rooms, or “cabins,” are being remodeled using the color, texture, and furniture that were typical of the French Art Deco period. The Normandie Hotel, located in Puerta de Tierra, is considered by many architects to be one of the Caribbean’s finest examples of Art Deco Architecture.

Decor, however, will be the only thing from the past: All rooms will be equipped with the latest technology, from high-speed Internet access to plasma television sets.

In addition, the hotel will feature “CRU,” a restaurant serving a fusion of seafood and Italian classics. The “N-Lounge” bar will turn the hotel lobby into a meeting place and will serve a wide range of appetizers. It will extend to the second-floor terrace.

To promote the hotel, Pauly signed an agreement with SRS-World Hotels, a German organization that offers marketing, sales, and distribution services to more than 450 hotels worldwide. The hotel has ended its contract with Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts, part of Carlson Hotels Worldwide. Park Plaza has administered the hotel since 2001.

Its new affiliation with SRS-World Hotel will result in an estimated 20% increase in nightly room fees, as the Normandie Hotel is now being promoted in SRS-Hotel’s “First Class” category, which includes properties offering superior accommodations, a sophisticated atmosphere, and top services.

Increased prices aren’t making Pauly lose any sleep, however. Already 65% of the rooms have been booked for the high season, which started Dec. 15, even though renovations have yet to be completed. Pauly expects to finish the first quarter of 2005 with hotel occupancy rates ranging from 89% to 91%. In addition, once the hotel is fully operational, Pauly hopes to increase the number of
employees from 140 to 200.

Pauly is convinced the Normandie Hotel has potential and its location, very close to the upcoming Convention Center District, will help it become Puerto Rico’s No. 1 boutique hotel.

“We are very pleased with the hotel’s evolution and believe it will become one of the top choices for travelers who are looking for modern properties with a cozy, refined atmosphere and excellent service,” said Pauly during the tour he gave to CARIBBEAN BUSINESS reporters.

This will be the first time since the hotel’s glory days in the 1940s that it will be known by its original name, the Normandie Hotel.