Radisson's will be fifth flag at Omni Hotel since it opened in 1978
By Susan Stabley
The former Omni Hotel, which has flown the flags of four chains since it opened in 1978, will soon become a Radisson.
Formal announcement of the change at the 528-room hotel owned by CP Miami Hospitality at 1601 Biscayne Blvd. will come in 30-60 days, said Brian Mulholland, the hotel's marketing director. New signs should be up by the end of June, he said.
The formal name of the hotel will be New Radisson Hotel Miami.
It was a Crowne Plaza during the 1990s until it hoisted the Wyndham flag in late 1998. In 2001, it became a Marriott Renaissance.
Earlier this year, hotel owners ended a management contract with Marriott and hired Driftwood Hospitality, based in Jupiter. The hotel is wrapping up a $14 million renovation that includes a new restaurant to open by July 1, Mr. Mulholland said. The restaurant, which will offer regional dishes and seafood, also will be operated by Driftwood.
More staff will be added, he said. A few dozen have been hired, and the number could increase to more than 100, he said.
"We have a national reputation for turning around properties," said Mr. Mulholland. "The city expects great things from us."
Driftwood had considered branding the hotel as a Hilton but couldn't because of that chain's exclusivity contract with the 1,200-room Fontainebleau on Miami Beach, which bears that name. The Miami hotel would have had to cut the number of rooms to less than 500 to become a Hilton, Mr. Mulholland said.
The most difficult challenge for the hotel, observers say, will be for it to shed its lingering Omni identity.
Scott Brush, an independent hotel analyst based in Miami, said the hotel is tarnished by the deserted retail mall from which it sprang.
Built in 1978, the hotel was next to Omni International Mall, which was initially successful. But with a downturn in the number of Latin American tourists, the mall soon went empty. By 2000, with few tenants and sparse traffic, the shopping center was vacated.
Since then, the Miami International University of Art & Design, formerly International Fine Arts College, has taken up residence at the old retail center. And the Omni area is gaining attention as a performing-arts center under construction a few blocks away feeds a rebirth of the area.
Still, difficulties could arise from a perceived lack of consistency. "Changing brands obviously negatively affects the hotel," said Christian Charre of research firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
Also, switching from Renaissance to Radisson is considered a "step down," said Peter Gluckler of Lodging Econometrics, a New Hampshire company that tracks hotel investments. "Renaissance is considered an upper-upscale hotel, but a Crown Plaza or a Radisson is just upscale."
Mr. Brush said the new brand could benefit the hotel if promoted well. "Radisson carries a reasonable name," he said. "It needs a reasonable name, and it needs a very good marketing department."