By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge was the first full-service hotel to open in Brooklyn in 64 years when it first welcomed visitors in 1998. Now, with other hotels entering the competition in Downtown Brooklyn, the Marriott has completed the first phase of a $43 million restoration, in an attempt to hold onto its premier spot.
“We're going to renovate every square inch of the hotel, and if the rest of it proceeds the way this first part does, we'll be very excited,” said the building’s owner Josh Muss. “We're very pleased with how this worked out. When we came on board, we were the only hotel, and now we're one of many. I think we are maintaining our position as the leading hotel in size, in conference space and in beauty now.”
The first phase included a redesigned lobby, restaurant and concierge lounge. The formal dining room is gone, and in its place is The Bar, a chic and modern lounge which serves cocktails and locally produced food from places like the Brooklyn Roasting Company, Ovenly and the Brooklyn Winery.
“Brooklyn has evolved so much beyond belief, so at one point Brooklyn passed the hotel,” Marriott’s General Manager Sam Ibrahim said. “Now we're trying to keep up with Brooklyn — we're in a race with Brooklyn and are now passing it because we were behind.”
In addition to The Bar, the Marriott has added the M Club Lounge, an exclusive space where Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum Elite hotel guests can grab some food or get some work done on the provided Wi-Fi, computers, fax machines and copiers.
This is just the first part of the renovation. The hotel will start to makeover the boardrooms and meeting rooms next. It will then begin renovations on the North Tower, which is expected to be finished by January, and finally the South Tower is expected to be completed by July 2016.
“The Marriott was a trailblazer when they opened in the late ’90s,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura. “It was the first hotel to open in Brooklyn in over 50 years at the time. Now they realized that they needed to do something new, and they are. They were ahead of their game then, and they're ahead of their game now.”
The renovation may have been sparked by the other hotels currently under construction in Brooklyn — 2,500 rooms are expected to be finished in the next two years, according to Scissura, but the Marriott doesn’t see its competition as a bad thing.
“The other hotels under construction will help us a little bit, because if there is a citywide convention and it needs 5,000 rooms, we can't give them that,” Ibrahim said. “So it helps to have that added. The construction is good for us and everyone.”
With 46,000 square feet of meeting space, 667 rooms and a location close to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Marriott expects to remain the premier hotel in the borough even after the new arrivals show up.
“The sense of arrival for the customers is a big wow,” Ibrahim said. “This made a huge difference. It was so important for us to make that arrival process and make it brilliant for our guests. We want them to know that we're expecting them and this is phenomenal.”