Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel is undergoing a transformation.
Since opening in 2005, this hotel has become a leader in luxury accommodations for Tampa Bay and one of only a few hotels in the area that can boast a AAA Four Diamond Hotel rating. Visitors have come to count on the consistently excellent service and first-class amenities.
In order to stay on top, however, you have to continually improve. So, after 10 years of successful operation, General Manager Jim Bartholomay – who's been around since the hotel’s construction and opening – now finds himself at the helm of the hotel's reinvention as a lifestyle hotel.
This informal seating inside Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel area offers space for guests to converse or play games — Photo courtesy of Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel
What is a lifestyle hotel? A lifestyle hotel is one that puts the guest back in the driver’s seat.
Borrowing the best elements from the newest crop of boutique hotels, a lifestyle hotel focuses on the guest experience and meeting the needs of the modern traveler, while incorporating the advantages of a chain hotel, including loyalty programs, consistency of quality and economies of scale.
At Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, the transition to a lifestyle brand is a multi-faceted endeavor. Once a jewel of Mediterranean architecture and décor – full of vibrant color and intricate decorative touches – now both the public and private spaces are being reinvented as simple, modern spaces.
The hotel's award-winning restaurant Pelagia features a comfortable outdoor seating area — Photo courtesy of Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel
Muted colors of greys and blues are featured to create a calm and soothing atmosphere. One is left with the impression that by muting the colors, the hotel spaces now serve as a neutral background, allowing the guests to shine and add their own color.
Simple, modern and muted do not, however, mean boring. This is demonstrated by the intriguing furniture choices, where the emphasis is on comfort, intimacy and engagement.
For example, the renovated lobby features long, communal tables stocked with games, next to sleek, modern recliners perfect for reading. Unique and stylish daybeds offer space for guests to gather for casual conversation.
In addition to the cosmetic improvements, guest engagement is also a large part of the transformation strategy. While service excellence and customer relationships have always been a large part of Renaissance Tampa’s success, reflecting Bartholomay's efforts to move the hotel beyond the brick and mortar, they're now taking it to the next level.
The hotel's friendly staff is always quick with a smile and advice on how to enjoy your stay — Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers
Drawing on the hotel’s best assets, employees have been empowered to participate in the guest experience. Referred to as “Navigators” as part of the re-branding process, employees are encouraged to share their local knowledge with guests and facilitate their discovery of the Tampa area.
Whether it’s a casual conversation or a more formal itinerary, the focus is on belief in the spirit of exploration and discovery, with the new motto as “Live life to discover.”
Before a guest even arrives, they receive an email that asks what they wish to experience during their stay. Employees have come up with lists of local restaurants, activities and attractions to showcase their favorites.
Guest-to-guest engagement is also being encouraged. For example, every evening there's an after-work beverage ritual in the newly renovated Gabriella's lounge, where guests can mingle and partake of a carefully crafted and complimentary cocktail.
The transformation is currently well along, with the new philosophy in place and public spaces renovated. The project is expected to be complete by the end of October 2015 and to be rolled out with a new advertising and marketing strategy during Marriott’s Global Customer Appreciation Week.