Pasadena sees flurry of hotel development, extensions and renovations

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Visitors who enter the old Constance Hotel on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena are often surprised because the interior is so different from the 1920s Spanish-style exterior.

“There’s a ah-ha moment for sure,” said hotel manager Paul Jan Zdunek. “Not everyone likes it. It may not be what they imagined ”when looking outside.

What guests encounter, he said, is “incredible Thai techno culture pop” in bright colors and flowing shapes.

This blend of historic Pasadena and modern Asian flair gives the hotel industry now known as Hotel Constance DusitD2 Pasadena its edge in a competitive local hotel market. Expansion of Constance is expected to begin shortly as demand for rooms in the region increases.

DusitD2 is the forward-thinking, mid-priced brand of Dusit International, a Thai hotel management company that operates luxury properties in several countries, including Thailand, China and the United Arab Emirates. The Constance is Dusit’s first inn in the United States.

Pasadena’s average hotel occupancy rate has increased dramatically over the past five years to almost 85%, which is “extremely high,” according to hospitality analyst Bruce Baltin of PKF Consulting USA. The city is running out of rooms, he said, and new hotels are arriving in the city center.

A 144-room Residence Inn is slated for completion by November on Fair Oaks Avenue, north of Old Pasadena.

Other ongoing projects include a Hyatt Place to replace the old Macy’s department store building in the Paseo Colorado shopping center on Colorado Boulevard and a Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants branch encompassing the former YWCA built in 1922 on North Marengo Avenue.

Last month, the Westin Pasadena on North Los Robles Avenue was sold for $ 142.5 million to a New York real estate investment trust that plans to spend an additional $ 15.5 million on renovations to rooms and d ‘other improvements.

Pasadena hotels thrive on a business traveler base during the week and a significant tourist trade on weekends, Baltin said. The city also has a convention center, substantially renovated in 2009, which creates a demand for hotel rooms.

“Pasadena is its own market, as well as an upscale destination for a lot of things happening in the San Gabriel Valley,” he said.

The owners of the Constance DusitD2 plan to inaugurate a $ 35 million expansion by May 1 that will add 25 rooms and amenities such as a fitness center and swimming pool to the Colorado and Mentor Avenue resort.

“It was always meant to be the full-service four-star hotel that it will become,” said Zdunek, who represents the investment group led by Hong Kong real estate firm Singpoli Capital Corp. who owns the Constance DusitD2.

Features of DusitD2 hotels are cutting-edge design, high-tech connectivity and other modern touches meant to appeal to young travelers. Pasadena customers, for example, can connect their personal electronics to their bedroom TVs so they can watch Netflix and other video streaming services from their own accounts.

Each room has its own iPad that guests can use to adjust lighting, make housekeeping requests and dinner reservations, or purchase items at the hotel.

Hong Kong interior designer Joey Ho created the futuristic and playful rooms and a bright blue cocktail lounge.

The Dusit hotel brand is little known in the United States.

“We got off to a slow start,” Zdunek admitted. “Since January or February, we’ve been doing well.

The expansion calls for westward expansion into a vacant lot behind the facades of historic Colorado buildings that have been preserved. A four-level underground garage will be topped with new restaurants at street level. Meeting rooms will also be added.

The project is expected to be completed in early summer 2016, Zdunek said.

Guests at the Constance are mostly between the ages of 25 and 45, “people who are looking for something different from a normal hotel,” he said. “It looks like an international crowd.”

The seven-story Constance Hotel was built in 1926 by Constance V. Perry, a prominent local businesswoman. At the time, Pasadena was one of the country’s top resort destinations for wealthy Orientals looking to escape the cold.

Perry sold the hotel four years later so that she could devote her time to managing her vast real estate properties in the San Joaquin Valley, The Times reported in 1930. It served as a retirement home for many years. many years before its transformation in 2014 into a DusitD2 hotel. .

Dusit is a well-established name in Asia, where hotel competition is fierce, said industry analyst Alan Reay of Atlas Hospitality. In Pasadena, however, the brand is likely to be seen more as an independent hotel, as most people are unfamiliar with Dusit.

“It hurts you in the short term” to be a new brand, he said, “but once you have clients in the property you can get them. “

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Twitter: @rogervincent



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