|By Suzanne Marta, The Dallas Morning
NewsMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Jan. 6, 2007 - Warwick International Hotels said Friday that it has purchased Dallas' historic Melrose Hotel and is planning a major upgrade of its guest rooms and public areas.
The 83-year-old hotel, in the Oak Lawn neighborhood, will be renamed the Warwick Melrose Hotel and will continue to be run by general manager J. Thomas Baker.
Mr. Baker said the hotel's popular Landmark restaurant is slated for some refurbishments, but he promised that the iconic Library Bar will remain the same.
"You have to be careful what you do in the Library," he said. "If we change the carpet in there, I'll get a note from a guest about it."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Dallas Central Appraisal District assessed the property at $14.8 million last year.
Company officials did not offer details about the renovations but said they would begin this year.
Richard Chiu, Warwick's president, said Friday that he was attracted to Dallas' strong corporate base and ties to key business markets, including New York.
"We see Dallas as a gateway city," Mr. Chiu said.
Warwick, which is based in Paris, owns, operates or markets 40 luxury hotels globally, including four in the United States.
The hotel company said it hopes to use its global footprint to attract a broader customer base to the Dallas property.
"Now we'll have an international database of customers to mine and an international sales presence," Mr. Baker said.
Mr. Baker said the Melrose has competed successfully in the Dallas market, attracting average room rates of $171 and an occupancy level around 65 percent.
The hotel recently earned a four-diamond rating by travel services firm AAA, up from the three-diamond level it held previously. Its Landmark restaurant, which had been unrated by AAA, also earned four diamonds.
Greg Crown, a hotel analyst with PKF Consulting in Dallas, said Warwick isn't as well-known in the United States, but the affiliation may prove important as Melrose faces more competition from the newly opened W Victory Dallas and the Ritz-Carlton slated to open this summer.
"Brands are very powerful in Dallas," Mr. Crown said. "This is a step in the right direction."
Mr. Chiu said Warwick hotels enjoy strong market penetration, outperforming their peers.
Pennsylvania-based Berwind Property Group Inc. purchased the 184-room Melrose in 1999 and invested $4 million in upgrades to the property.
Berwind added two other Melrose hotels in New York and Washington but has stepped away from the hotel business.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Dallas Morning News
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