Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Hard Blog Hotel.

Got a release the other day that begins: “Hard Rock Cafe International and Sol Meliá Hotels and Resorts announced that its 50:50 joint venture (Lifestar Hotels LLC) has entered into a series of agreements with Becker Ventures LLC to develop and manage the Paramount Hotel, which Becker recently acquired from Century Paramount LLC. The purchase price of the hotel was $126.5 million. The hotel will undergo a multi-million dollar refurbishment to commence at the beginning of 2005, following which it will be re-branded the Hard Rock Hotel New York.”

What, New York doesn’t have one already? Too tired to look it up. Just another bit of the effusion of press releases that come my way daily, except that I do notice when an announcement like this involves someplace I’ve actually stayed, in this case the Paramount Hotel. It’s a theater-district hotel, spitting distance from Times Square, and my company put me up there in 2000.

Not an awful hotel experience, just an odd one. The Paramount tried hard to gloss over the fact that it was a tired old property offering shoebox rooms with a patina of hip, or someone’s idea of hip, which is all that hip really means anyway. Mostly this was done by decorating the lobby with metal and glass things, and turning down the lights. Except in the elevators. Each elevator had a different color of light illuminating it -- creating a green elevator, a blue one, and so on. Also, and this was probably just a circumstance not planned by the hotel, there always seemed to be guys dressed all in black idling in the lobby.

The Hard Rock, I think, will be more calculating in its approach. That company has a formula, after all. I can’t badmouth it, really: in Chicago, Hard Rock restored the handsome Carbon & Carbide Building on Michigan Avenue to be one of its hotels. You don’t have to go inside among the rock knickknacks to appreciate it. But I’d be surprised if the rooms at the future Hard Rock New York were any bigger that the Paramount’s are now.


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