Business Casual Renovations at this Philly area hotel focus on relaxation

The Philadelphia suburb of Fort Washington, PA—with its proximity to corporate tenants including Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin and Aetna, as well as three major corporate parks—serves a multitude of business travelers. And, with convention spaces such as the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks and the Valley Forge Casino Resort Convention Center nearby, the city is a magnet for those visiting for business purposes.

Los Angeles-based real estate investment and development firm Laurus Corporation had those guests in mind when it renovated the 146-key Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia/Fort Washington, a property it acquired in 2013. The multimillion-dollar refurbishment of the six-story, upscale, select-service hotel covered all guestrooms and corridors, as well as the lobby, meeting space and adjacent outdoor courtyard.

“We acquired the Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia/Fort Washington because of its ideal location only 15 miles north of downtown Philadelphia and [its]close proximity to several Fortune 500 companies,” said Andres Szita, Laurus cofounder and chairman. “Corporate guests typically have high standards; therefore, the hotel was in need of an overall refresh in order to maintain its advantage in this submarket while maximizing revenue opportunities.”

He continued, “Our goal was to improve and modernize the guest experience, refreshing every area of the hotel—the lobby, meeting rooms, guestrooms, corridors, outdoor areas, etc. At the same time, since the hotel keeps a high occupancy, the goal was to minimize guest disruption and reduce noise.”

Cincinnati-based design firm FRCH Design Worldwide considered the needs of the guests staying at the property while in town for business in its refresh plan for the interior spaces. “The location pushed the design toward a more clean, streamlined aesthetic aimed toward the business traveler,” said Amy Cheeks, senior interior designer at FRCH. “The warmth of the materials selected allowed for a tone of relaxation to be experienced at the end of a long day.”

Being a Hilton Worldwide property, Cheeks and her team had to adhere to some brand standards while working with Laurus on the renovation plans, noted Szita. “As a Hilton Garden Inn property, there were necessary design guidelines from Hilton that needed to be met yet, within that approach, we were able to exercise some creativity and used some finishings found more commonly in [the company’s]European operations,” he said. “We also made sure the guestroom corridors were revived with contemporary design elements to break the monotony, as well as accented elevator landings and improved lighting in most areas. Each guest bathroom received a much-needed overhaul, and we created an inviting, chic outdoor scene with a fire pit, seating areas and F&B service.”

According to Laurus, the hotel’s guestrooms are the largest available in the market, and they now feature new carpets, modern furniture and fixtures, new beds, completely refreshed guest bathrooms, thoughtfully curated artwork and improved lighting.

“My design philosophy is to express the client’s desires with a solution uniquely tailored to that vision. Through pairing clean-lined furniture silhouettes and modern abstract art with more traditional picture-frame mouldings and warm colors, we were able to create a comfortable yet contemporary aesthetic that never feels cold or uninviting,” said Cheeks, who noted about the color scheme, “The palette selected was based on the client’s desire to see warm earth tones; nothing too blue or gray was used.”

Those earth tones became a common thread that linked the guestrooms and corridors with the other areas inside the property, including 3,350 sq. ft. of meeting space. “The guestroom is a quiet place to reside, and those warm colors are extended into the guestroom corridors, business center, and pre-function and meeting room spaces to create a seamless experience,” said Cheeks.

One of the highlights of the remodel is the adjacent outdoor courtyard which, according to Laurus, creates an appealing central gathering space with direct hotel access for small and large-scale meetings and events.

“The terrace design creates a relaxed gathering space with soft modular seating groups that are flexible enough to also function as dining seats,” said Cheeks. “The fire pit is the focal point around which guests can gather informally and really relax.”

Szita noted, since completing the renovation in July, the hotel has received rave reviews from guests, as well as accolades from management company Aimbridge Hospitality. “We are number one on TripAdvisor, with the best reviews of the competitive set in the area and, upon completion of the renovation, the hotel was distinguished with an award by the management company as the best hotel within its system,” he said. “We not only renovated; we made sure to go the extra mile to provide total guest satisfaction.”