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Georgetown hotel to get chic makeover

Washington D.C.’s tony Georgetown neighborhood set to get second, new luxury boutique hotel in time for the next presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2013.

Mast Capital, a Florida-based real estate private equity firm, recently bought the 58-room Hotel Monticello and will soon begin giving it a chic makeover – complete with a rooftop lounge, fitness center and cutting edge in-room technology.

The goal is to have the seven-story hotel completely revamped by late 2012 in time for the inauguration, Mast CEO Camilo Miguel, Jr., recently told me in an interview.

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The Hotel Monticello won’t get a brand name, like the nearby Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

Instead, it will operate as part of Hersha Hospitality Management’s Independent Collection, which focuses on interesting hotels in top locations, Hersha Hospitality Management CEO Naveen Kakarla recently told me during the same interview. Ten of the 80 hotels that Hersha runs fall in this category.

“I don’t think you can have a better address than 30th and M in Georgetown,” Kakarla told me. “And I don’t think you can have a more interesting building. It was originally a manor as opposed to one of the big boxes that you often read about.”

Another plus is the room size, he says. The average guest room is 400 square feet and contains a living room as well as a bedroom area.

Kakarla expects that the hotel’s small size, coupled with the rooms’ ample size, will have particular appeal to female business travelers, many of whom prefer to have a “small piedeterre vs. a big box hotel.”

The Hotel Monticello makeover will be mostly cosmetic, with updates to the lobby and other public areas. Yet Miguel and Kakarla also addressed a number of highly visible changes:

  • Guestroom TVs: Miguel emphasized plans to upgrade in-room TV experience in a way that gives new options on how they interact with their TV. Though early, it sounds as if they’re going to adopt a system that involves letting guests surf the Internet through their TV instead of being limited to pay-per-view movies.
  • Food and beverage outlets: Expect an upgraded coffee and tea program. The hotel may receive a basement bar in addition to a rooftop bar with panoramic views.
  • Fitness center: A fitness center will be built in the hotel’s basement.

Washington hotel market flourishes

Nearby, work has already commenced on the construction of a 49-room luxury boutique hotel with a similar opening time goal. It will be called Capella Georgetown, part of the small luxury hotel chain led by Ritz-Carlton co-founder Horst Schulze out of Atlanta.

Both hotels will compete for customers who now might stay at the nearby Four Seasons Washington D.C. or the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown.

Both hotels are the latest examples of how the Washington D.C.-area hotel market is flourishing, despite a lack of financing that has plagued most other markets.

The Washington Post recently noted how Washington is outpacing the USA in terms of hotel development, citing Smith Travel Research data.

Washington is now ranked as USA’s third-busiest market for the number of hotel rooms under construction behind New York and Orlando.

Will the Latham hotel be next?

One hotel in Georgetown that so far hasn’t gotten a makeover is the Latham Hotel.

When I visited the hotel – home to chef Michel Richard’s acclaimed Citronelle restaurant – the dated lobby furniture cried out for replacement. TripAdvisor reviewers say guest rooms also need a thorough update, pointing out noisy heaters, worn-out guestroom furniture and their room’s “funny, old TV.”

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