Hotel Online  Special Report

 Historic Normandie Hotel in San Juan Completes $8 million Renovation; 
Unique Ocean Liner-Shaped Property Features Clean Art Deco Design

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Dec. 19, 2005) -- The historic Normandie Hotel, located at 499 Avenida Muñoz Rivera esq. Rosales, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, today announced that it recently completed a comprehensive USD $8 million renovation of all the property’s public spaces and 173 guestrooms and suites. The newly refurbished ocean-front hotel combines the geometric, simple forms of French Art Deco décor with the first-class services and amenities expected by today’s business and leisure travelers. 
General Manager Thomas Pauly said that while the hotel is in a traditional leisure destination, the Normandie is ideal for corporate clients and the meetings market.
“It’s true our hotel offers panoramic views of the ocean and beaches of Puerto Rico, but we’re ideally suited to serve the corporate travel segment,” said Pauly. “The property is located in the city’s central business district, and about 80 percent of our room inventory is considered ‘executive rooms and business rooms.’ In addition, we have 24-hour a day room service, wireless Internet access throughout the hotel, more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate up to 500 people, and the hotel is just six miles from the airport.”
Pauly added that a tremendous amount of time and talent went into making this a best-in-class hotel, and one of premier meeting destinations in the region. “The team that worked on refurbishing our hotel, including Dallas-based design firm Morison Seifert Murphy and Architect Miguel del Rio of San Juan, did an outstanding job of creating interior décor that gives a nod to the property’s historic charm and distinctive shape. We’re excited to see the dust settle, and invite guests to experience our ‘new’ hotel firsthand.”

History Provides Insight into Unique Ocean-Liner Design

Engineer Félix Benítez Rexach, a Puerto Rican born in Vieques, fell in love with a French lady named Lucienne (Moineau) Dhotelle during a transatlantic cruise aboard the SS Normandie, the largest ship of its time. The love that developed between them was comparable with the love they both felt for the impressive ship.

The ship docked in New York harbor in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II, and served as the inspiration for a yacht Félix had built for his wife. While it was the largest yacht of its time, Lucienne was not satisfied. Wanting to please his wife, Félix began construction of a San Juan hotel in 1939 in the form of the ocean liner; he named it the Normandie Hotel. 

Construction lasted four years and cost USD $2 million. The hotel was “christened” on October 10, 1942, at an event attended by 1,500 people. Foreign dignitaries and members of the U.S. Armed Forces were present, including Admiral Hoover, General Collins, and Governor Rexford G. Tugwell. The cost of admission to the event was USD $5, an extremely high rate considering it was wartime and closely followed the end of the Great Depression. 

As a side note, eight months before the completion of the hotel, the SS Normandie (still docked in New York harbor) was seized by the U.S. Navy to be converted into a troop carrier. During the transformation, a welder’s torch sparked a stockpile of lifebelts, burning the ship and sinking it to the bottom of the Hudson River.

Focal Points of Lobby are Two 800-Gallon Fish Tanks

The lobby project included the infusion of a light color palette, oversized lamps to improve the lighting, two large fish tanks next to the main elevators, new sleek-lined furniture and plush carpets. 

Guestrooms or “Cabins” Embrace Art Deco Architecture

The re-launched guestrooms or “cabins” feature custom designed furnishings in an ocean-inspired palette of colors and textures that define the Art Deco period. Designers used a combination of stepped forms for tables and countertop surfaces, furnishings with clean lines and rounded corners, and geometric accents of glass and chrome. A porthole influence is also found throughout the rooms in elements ranging from round drawer pulls to a circular pattern woven into the carpeting. 

Modern guestroom amenities for business travelers include an oversized desk/writing surface, laptop plug-in, plus a Herman Miller ergonomic task chair. An abundance of storage is available in a large, Corian©-topped bedroom chest that also houses the refreshment and entertainment center. 

Special features of every guestroom include dimmer-controlled lighting; a wardrobe armoire inspired by beach cabanas and changing rooms of a bygone era; artwork commissioned exclusively for the Normandie that suggests the past glamour of 1930s-style ocean liners; high-speed and wireless Internet connectivity; a CD stereo system and cable-enhanced television; mini refrigerator and in-room safes; as well as hair dryers, coffee makers and irons with ironing boards.  

Meeting Rooms Cater to the Corporate Market

The Normandie Hotel also features more than 7,000 square feet of remodeled meeting space equipped with wireless, high-speed Internet access, video conferencing and other sophisticated telecommunications technology. The professional foodservice staff offers a variety of menu choices served with first-class service for intimate groups of eight up to functions for 500 people. The elegantly furnished facilities feature a grand mahogany bar and sun-filled atriums.

The main event space, the Gold Room, is known for its romantic atmosphere and can accommodate up to 400 guests. The Silver and Ocean View rooms are well-suited for executive meetings or conferences from 20 to 200 people. Intimate dinners and small groups are best served by the Atlantic View boardroom, which comfortable accommodates 12 people and features a panoramic, 180-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean and Escambron Park.   

A separate business center is available with secretarial services, Internet-connected computers, courier services, printers, fax machines, PC rental, a copier and printing services. Interpreter and translation services are available upon request.

On-Site Dining Satisfies a Symphony of Tastes

Fine-dining featuring fresh, authentic Italian cuisine is offered at the elegant Ristorante Crú, where its Carpaccio Bar welcomes a select number diners a unique opportunity to view culinary creativity up close. 

The Atrium Café and Wine Bar provides guests either a quick “on the go” breakfast or lunch, or a relaxing dinner of continental dishes with Caribbean charm. The venue’s vast selection of wines and champagnes, combined with the excellent music, make it a unique setting. 
The hotel’s N Lounge was recently voted by the readers of San Juan City magazine as one of the best bars in the city. There, guests enjoy the outdoor terrace and drink of their choice served at a unique curved-shaped bar. A resident DJ daily provides musical entertainment into the early morning hours. 

Finally, room service is also available 24-hours a day for dining in the comfort of guestrooms and suites.

Indoor/Outdoor Spa Services Offer Calming Atlantic Ocean Views

The Normandie Hotels pampers guests at the popular indoor/outdoor N Spa. A secluded Jacuzzi is available beneath the stars or during the day in full Atlantic views. The N Spa’s offerings include massage, outdoor pool, private beach access, as well as complimentary health and fitness center. 


The Normandie Hotel
Patti Winger
T: 651 436 3592

Also See: Eagle Hospitality Acquires the 299-suite Embassy Suites San Juan Hotel & Casino for $60 Million / June 2005
Wyndham Investing $16.5 million in Upgrades to its Puerto Rican Casino Properties; Appoints Four Industry Veterans to Lead Casino Operations / April 2005

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