JP Kavanagh, General Manager, tells ITCM of the benefits of a multi-million-pound investmentSheraton are in the process of spending $6bn globally on upgrading their properties. One UK hotel to benefit greatly from that investment is the 5-star Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh. An almost total renovation has been carried out, starting in 2010 and completed in March 2012.
General Manager during the whole of that period has been J P Kavanagh, a Dubliner always known as ‘JP’ rather than ‘John Paul’.
‘We made the most of the shape of the building’, he is happy to relate, ‘so that we could carry out really substantial work without interfering with the overall operation of the hotel. It is in the form of three wings, so we could close off a whole floor in one section and life could go on as normal in the rest of the property.’
JP is keen to point out that this massive work cannot be described as ‘updating’.
‘No’, he explains, ‘we have spent two years preparing the facilities for the next ten years. It is what we call future-proofed. We have worked on the basis that digital communications will continue to grow in importance. The result is that much of the benefit from the investment is not to view, but is hidden above ceiling level and behind the walls. That is where systems related to air-conditioning, heating, sophisticated lighting and facilities for the creative use of colour are now ready and waiting.’
All 269 guestrooms have been renovated; the hotel chefs and engineers are delighted with the investments made in the kitchens and in the technical systems.
At least 30% of the hotel’s revenue derives from MICE business and so, obviously, its corporate and association clients will benefit greatly from the work done.
‘With 14,000sqft of space, we have always prided ourselves on having the best conference facilities of any hotel in the city’, says JP, ‘and we are now ready to hold that position for the next decade. A Number One priority has been to provide event organisers with the ability for 500 delegates to meet and to eat with the minimum of fuss or disruption. To achieve that, no expense has been spared. We have even removed a whole staircase during the remodelling so that the 500sqm Edinburgh Suite and its dining facilities can be offered together.’
The work has included the creation of a central atrium that acts as a prefunction space and allows delegates to flow in and out of the meeting rooms easily and to relax and network there during breaks. The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa also benefits from its close proximity to the EICC (Edinburgh International Conference Centre), which itself is adding a massive new facility, incorporating the most modern systems for seating re-configuration. EICC is non-residential and its delegates cannot find a hotel more convenient than the Sheraton.
And, of course, the ‘Spa’ in the hotel’s name has not been ignored. Its One Spa offers 35,000 sqft of relaxation and health-giving facilities, including a swimming pool, a rooftop Hydropool, a Thermal Suite and a range of heat and water treatments.