By Sara Heiserman
Thoughts of the East Coast conjure up images of busy city centers, idyllic seaside towns, stylish socialites and history—a whole lot of history. So it should come as no surprise that two of the newest additions to the growing family of Loews Hotels & Resorts—Loews Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C. and Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel—combine equal parts modern opulence and historical charm to deliver the ultimate personalized luxury hotel experience.
Built in 1963 by famed Washington developer, philanthropist and art collector Marshall Coyne, the Madison Hotel was immediately lauded as the capital’s finest. In addition to furnishing many of the hotel’s 360 rooms with priceless antiques from his personal collection, Coyne proudly offered services and amenities that set a new standard for the U.S. hotel industry. (Among his most noteworthy contributions, Coyne introduced American travelers to the refrigerated minibar—a modern-day staple of luxury hotels.)
President and CEO of Loews Hotels & Resorts Paul Whetsell explains, “The Madison—for many, many years—was the luxury hotel in Washington, D.C.”
But it wasn’t just the hotel’s striking modernist style, lavish appointments and overabundance of never-before-seen conveniences that drew countless celebrities and VIPs to its front doors. The Madison Hotel quickly developed a reputation for its superior service and sensitivity to the unique security needs of its most prestigious guests.
In fact, President John F. Kennedy attended the hotel’s grand opening event in February 1963, leading the opening ceremonies. His endorsement marked the beginning of an era as the Madison Hotel ushered in a long line of distinguished guests including heads-of-state, foreign diplomats, business tycoons, sports icons and Hollywood royalty. Everyone who was anyone—from Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor to George W. Bush and the Dalai Lama—made the Madison his or her prime District of Columbia destination. The capital’s rising star instantly became a coveted venue for the most exclusive inaugural galas, charity events and other glamorous social gatherings.
Ideally situated at the heart of the city, the historic hotel continues to lure those with a taste for the finer things. From world business travelers to local families seeking to take in the sights and sounds of the nation’s capital, guests relish knowing they’re right in the middle of the action.
Just minutes away are countless iconic landmarks: Take a walk to the White House (just five blocks); stroll to the Smithsonian (a few blocks more); Dupont Circle, Embassy Row and the National Mall are a few steps away. Situated on the southeast corner of 15th and M streets, the hotel is also within a few short blocks of public transportation.
Given its location and extraordinary history, the famed Madison Hotel presented a remarkable opportunity for Loews Hotels & Resorts to do what it does best in the country’s capital. On Jan. 31, 2013—months after the hotel completed an extensive $23 million renovation—Loews assumed ownership of the Madison Hotel, just in time to celebrate its golden anniversary.
Boasting 356 spacious and elegantly appointed guest rooms (including nine suites), a stately new ballroom and more than 12,000 square feet of meeting space, the newly renovated Loews Madison Hotel provides an impressive backdrop for business or pleasure. In addition, the hotel now offers a quick-service coffee shop and two restaurants: the lively PostScript cafe (a vibrant eatery well-suited for people-watching) and the acclaimed Federalist, celebrating 18th century American cuisine using the finest locally sourced ingredients.
“[The renovation] has restored the quality level to something that is expected of a Loews hotel,” Whetsell says. “You add to that Loews’ service and we think those are the characteristics that will make this a very, very successful Loews Madison Hotel.”
While the U.S. Department of State and other high-profile organizations continue to favor Loews Madison Hotel for its forte—tending to every whim and fancy of its VIP guests—this special treatment is not reserved for the rich and famous. Restored to its former glory and now under new ownership, the Loews Madison Hotel delights all of its discerning guests with the brand’s signature blend of class and comfort.
In recent months, the Madison has become—once again—the talk of the town, featured in leading consumer and travel magazines and newspapers. Not surprisingly, AAA has officially awarded Loews Madison Hotel a four-diamond rating.
“The one thing that Loews brings to all of its hotels—and Washington is a good example of that—is the unmatched level of service,” Whetsell says. “Washington is the kind of market where you have people that like to have a high level of personalized attention. This is something that we can do.”
Farther east, Loews acquired the Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel earlier this year. The picturesque East Coast retreat has been one of Boston’s best-kept secrets—until now.
Originally constructed in 1925 as Boston Police Department headquarters, the iconic building housed the city’s finest for over 70 years. Its prime position on the corner of Berkeley and Stuart streets, near the Charles River, made it the ideal location for police operations.
“We are trying to accommodate our customer base where they want to go with the type of product they want to use,” Whetsell says.
The Back Bay neighborhood is where visitors will find the city’s tallest buildings and ritzy residential areas marked by Boston’s characteristic Victorian brownstone row homes. It’s also the site of some of the hottest new restaurants and most fashion-forward boutiques.
Setting up camp in the heart of the city is an important detail not to be overlooked when planning a visit to one of America’s most walkable cities. From Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel, a jaunt in any direction will deliver guests right to the doorstep of a number of local attractions, historic landmarks and national treasures. The Freedom Trail (a 2.5-mile pathway guiding tourists through 16 historically significant sites like Faneuil Hall and the State House), Copley Square, the Shops at Prudential Center and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum are all within reach. A bonus for baseball fans: Boston’s beloved Fenway Park (home to the Red Sox) is just west.
Extensively renovated as the Jurys Boston Hotel in 2004 by the Doyle Collection, the Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel is clearly designed to impress upon arrival. With its grand 1920s stone façade and illuminated two-story glass staircase, the building’s dramatic exterior strikes a perfect balance between classic architecture and modern art. Inside, sumptuous and contemporary furnishings complete the picture.
After a long day of sightseeing, guests can wind down at either of the hotel’s two full-service restaurants: the stylish Stanhope Grille, offering new American cuisine, or Cuffs Bar, an ideal spot for light fare or a nightcap. Sit back, relax and bask in the warm glow of the big cozy fireplace (or, on a hot summer night, head outdoors to the sidewalk terrace) while dining on traditional East Coast cuisine and savor a pint with newfound friends.
The hotel features 225 spacious guest rooms (including two luxury suites and a presidential suite), where guests can relax and refresh with simple pleasures like lush linens in tranquil, rest-inducing hues. But more important than material comforts, they can expect to be treated to the warm, personalized service that has become a hallmark of Loews Hotels & Resorts.
Although Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel already has the makings of a modern luxury hotel, it appears the best is yet to come. As of Loews’ official acquisition, a dramatic $8 million makeover is in the works.
“The hotel is ready for a major renovation,” Whetsell says. “We are touching every aspect of the operation.”
In addition to relocating the main entrance from Stuart Street to the more action-packed Berkeley Street and making it grander, the renovation will include a brand-new, 1,200-square-foot meeting space. Plans are in place to redesign the hotel’s restaurant and bar and align their entrances with the hotel’s new main entrance. Common areas including the lobby and corridors will also undergo a facelift.
Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel is open for business and will remain so throughout the entire renovation.
“It’s going to make a statement in Boston about Loews—the quality that we bring,” Whetsell explains. “For the Loews customer base that is loyal to the brand, they haven’t had that alternative in Boston, and there’s some real excitement about us being there.”
Since acquiring Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel and Loews Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., Loews claims 19 distinctive luxury hotels and resorts in its expanding portfolio, with two additional properties currently under construction in Chicago and Orlando, Fla.
“We’re going to have accommodations in every one of those key markets now,” Whetsell says. “It’s just a key to fill in those gaps.”
Over the next five years, the company plans to continue to seek hotel additions in gateway cities, expanding the Loews experience to welcome guests wherever their travels take them.