Hotel's reflagging set

InterContinental joins Harbor Court name as of Monday

April 22, 2006|By JUNE ARNEY | JUNE ARNEY,SUN REPORTER

The Harbor Court hotel will be officially rebranded the InterContinental Harbor Court Baltimore on Monday after a $5 million upgrade that followed the Inner Harbor hotel's sale and management change earlier this year.

"It's been positively received by our sister properties as well as our global sales force," Lori Coyne, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, said yesterday. "There's a lot of excitement about having an InterContinental property in Baltimore."

InterContinental arrives just as competition in Baltimore's hotel market heats up.

Construction is under way on the city's long-awaited convention hotel - a 20-story, 756-room Hilton, on Pratt Street adjacent to the Baltimore Convention Center - which is to open in August 2008.

About 2,000 hotel rooms are in the pipeline in downtown Baltimore and around Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport.

Earlier this year, the Harbor Court complex was acquired by Hospitality Properties Trust of Newton, Mass., for $78 million from Castle & Cooke, the Los Angeles-based development company controlled by billionaire David Murdock.

An affiliate of InterContinental Hotels Group will manage the hotel. Hospitality Properties Trust owns 299 hotels throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, including four other InterContinentals.

Harbor Court's upgrades include refinished woodwork, brass work and marble throughout all public areas, and newly landscaped exterior gardens.

Technology upgrades include installation of high-speed wireless Internet in public areas, guest rooms and meeting spaces, and new systems to enhance check-in and check-out. By mid-May, all guest rooms will feature flat-screen televisions and improved in-room entertainment options. There also are plans for a new hotel entrance and courtyard.

Sprucing up has included taking down draperies for cleaning, washing windows, and lowering chandeliers for cleaning. "It's a nice face-lift to a lot of the public areas," Coyne said. "It's brightened it all up, and made it even better." Although Coyne declined to provide specific occupancy levels at the hotel, she said the Harbor Court has long shared in the success that Baltimore as a whole enjoys.

"Baltimore is a very busy city and runs wonderful occupancy levels, certainly compared to the national levels," she said. "What tends to work well for this property is smaller, high-end group and meeting business."

The hotel, at 550 Light St., is part of a mixed-use property that includes an eight-story tower with 195 guest rooms and 22 suites, a 72,000-square-foot office building, three towers of 175 condominium units and a 530-space parking garage.

One of the first upscale hotels in the revitalized Inner Harbor, Harbor Court has remained privately owned and operated since it opened in 1986.

june.arney@baltsun.com

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