|By Suzette Parmley, The Philadelphia
InquirerMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 12, 2012--The Hotel Monaco, Center City's 47th hotel and the first lodging to offer direct views of Independence Hall and Independence Mall, opened Thursday.
"We are big on Kimpton," said Mayor Nutter, cutting a ribbon and alluding to San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants' second major investment in the city. "You can't get any closer to life, liberty, and freedom than here at this location."
With 268 rooms, the four-star Monaco is the second hotel to open in 2012 in the city. The 136-suite Homewood Suites by Hilton opened in University City on Aug. 1.
Another venue, a $60 million Home2Suites by Hilton, broke ground at 12th and Arch Streets in April and is expected to be completed by next summer.
Monaco occupies the space of the former 11-story Lafayette Building, at Fifth and Chestnut Streets, which opened in 1907. Kimpton developed the site for $89 million. The company, which has become known for converting historic buildings into hotels, opened the four-star, 250-room Palomar in the former Architects Building at 17th and Sansom Streets three years ago.
"This city has been the best," said Kimpton CEO Mike Depatie amid 300 or so guests in the Lafayette ballroom. "We've been really embraced by the community."
Like the Palomar, Hotel Monaco has certification as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building. It adds to a recent spate of luxury, boutique hotels in Center City that include Le Meridien and Palomar. A W Hotel is planned for 1441 Chestnut St.
The 268 rooms, which include 17 suites, range from $159 to $499 a night, depending on season and demand. "A Monaco is generally home of the world traveler," Kimpton president Niki Leondakis said.
Monaco attempts to celebrate its location. There is a collection of calligraphy brushes in the lobby, meant to recall the signing of the Declaration of Independence and crafting of the U.S. Constitution.
The Monaco also offers 14,000 square feet of meeting space, 3,200 square feet of ballroom space, and a year-round rooftop lounge -- called the Rooftop Lounge Stratus, with two pavilions that seat up to 250.
Ed Grose, executive director of the 91-member Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, said nearly 200 hospitality jobs were created with the Monaco's opening.
"Kimpton has taken the Lafayette Building to new heights with the Rooftop Lounge Stratus and Red Owl Tavern nestled in the heart of the city's historic district," Grose said.
The hotel is expected to help meet demands intended by the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, said Jack Ferguson, CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Monaco is the first hotel to open in the Old City/Society Hill area since the Hyatt Regency Penns Landing in December 2000.
The Monaco "will add more weight to the upscale offerings in that market," said Peter Tyson, vice president of PKF Consulting USA, which tracks the region's hospitality industry.
"Depending on how large of a block of its rooms management is willing to commit, the Monaco should also aid marginally in helping the PCVB accommodate citywide conventions," Tyson said.
Contact Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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