|By Steve Huettel, St. Petersburg Times,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jun. 17, 2008 - Historic and frayed around the edges, the Heritage Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg will get a $3-million makeover and a hip, new brand.
BayStar Hotel Group of Tampa bought the 1920s-era hotel for nearly $7-million this month with plans to transform it into the Tampa Bay area's first Hotel Indigo by October.
"The one thing about Indigo is it's not cookie-cutter," said BayStar chairman George Glover. "They're not big beige boxes. They can't just be Holiday Inns or Ramadas with a new coat of paint on them."
InterContinental Hotels Group introduced Indigo in 2004 as a boutique brand with appeal to tech-savvy business travelers willing to spend more for a little extra luxury. Rooms have wall murals and area rugs over hardwood floors. The lobby's look and feel changes seasonally with new artwork, music and aromas.
BayStar isn't planning big structural changes to the 71-room hotel, built in 1926. Workers will expand guest bathrooms and replace the bathtubs with "spa showers," Glover said. A cafe serving breakfast, lunch and a limited dinner menu will replace the lobby bar.
The hotel will remain open during the renovations, said spokeswoman Helen Knight.
The last owner, Parkview Hospitality of Orlando, operated the Heritage as a Holiday Inn. But the hotel lost the brand a year and a half ago because it lacks the type of amenities Holiday Inn required and had trouble making money at the highest rates allowed by the chain, Glover said.
He expects the new Indigo will attract a 50-50 mix of business travelers and weekend leisure guests. The hotel will compete against other upscale brands such as Hilton Garden Inn and Sheraton, with daily rates from $139 to $199, Glover said.
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