$10 million makeover for Houston's Lancaster Hotel

George Sell By George Sell
08 November 2013 | Updated 08 November 2013

US: The Lancaster, a 93-room hotel in downtown Houston, Texas, has undergone a major refurbishment.

The 12-storey property is one of the city's most historic - it has been family-owned since 1926, when Michele DeGeorge and architect Joseph Finger opened it as the Auditorium Hotel. It has had its first major upgrade since 1983, when it was renamed the Lancaster and remodelled in the style of an English country manor.

Talking about the 2013 refurb, interior designer Charlene Lusk Dwyer, one of the hotel's owners and a descendant of Michele DeGeorge, said: "We wanted a more city than country look, without jarring anybody," said interior designer Charlene Lusk Dwyer, one of the hotel's owners who consulted on the project with Gensler. "That was our big fear because we were taking such a dramatic turn."

The reconfigured lobby has marble floors and hand-blown Murano glass fixtures, and a mural-size photo of actress Betty Rand and her horse Phantom (who once made an appearance in the Auditorium's lobby).

The decor in the hotel's 93 rooms incorporates menswear fabrics, brass bathroom fixtures by Waterworks and new furniture such as studded leather headboards and chairs. Walls are decorated with vintage show posters from the surrounding area's theatres. "Not having everything the same is really important to us - not like you're in any Marriott in any city," said general manager Brenda Anderson.

Post renovation, bookings in the month of September were up 78 per cent from September 2012.

"Usually people love that they walk in and (employees) know them by name," she said. "They feel like they've arrived in a home. They don't feel like a little fish in a big ocean," said Dwyer.


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