Leisure & Hospitality International - Spring 2015 - 73

G R EYST O N E HO T E L S

FRESHENING UP
Greystone acquired the Empress
Hotel in La Jolla, Calif., in April 2013,
and the boutique hotel fit all the
criteria of what Greystone looks for.
It's set in an iconic location in downtown La Jolla and a short drive from
main attractions, such as San Diego's
beaches. The city also has a high
barrier to entry, which means an influx of competition is not likely. The
most key attribute, however, was an
opportunity to improve the Empress'
position in the market.
"The property was poorly managed
and in need of a renovation," Horodas
says. "It had been at least 20 to 25
years since the rooms were renovated.
So we ran the property as-is for six or
seven months to get a feel for it, and
we corrected some of the deferred
maintenance, such as elevators, heating and AC systems and the phone
systems. And while that was going on
we were working with a decorator to
come up with a concept on what we
want the hotel to be and what kind
of experience we want guests to have
when they get to the hotel."
Greystone turned to its preferred
designers, Kathleen Kita Palmer and
Jen Garramore, who together helped
the group bring out the La Jolla within
the Empress. Palmer and Garramore
designed a light, airy concept with
d├ęcor and art evocative of La Jolla's
seashore. Greystone kicked off the
renovation starting with guest rooms
first - new wall coverings, carpeting,
window coverings, bedding and furniture. It expects to finish room renovations in the spring and will move on
to renovating the lobby and meeting
rooms for a completely new hotel.
"When guests come to the Empress, we want them to have a sense
of place," Horodas says. "We want it
not to just be very Southern California, but very La Jolla."

Greystone applies that individualist
mindset to each one of its properties,
considering the time, space, audience
and brand when defining concepts. For
instance, the historic King George Hotel located in downtown San Francisco

one block from Union Square creates
a distinguished European-inspired
ambiance. Greystone purchased the
153-room hotel in 1996 and promptly
followed with a full renovation and
addition one year later.

Spring 2015 LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY INTERNATIONAL | WWW.LHIMAGAZINE.COM

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