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Historic Buildings Get New Life as Hotels in Capital

June 30, 2002|Jane Engle

This has been a busy month for hotel openings across the U.S. Some major ones:

* Washington, D.C.: One of the capital's most historic landmarks, the 1842 General Post Office Building, has been revived as the Hotel Monaco Washington D.C. It was the city's first all-marble structure, and it squats on an entire city block at 700 F St., N.W., near the National Portrait Gallery. Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group put $35 million into renovations after signing a lease in 1999 with the federal General Services Administration.

The hotel will have 184 rooms (140 were open last week), a 174-seat restaurant (opening July 9) and a ballroom with domed skylight. San Francisco architect Michael Stanton designed the conversion; Cheryl Rowley of Beverly Hills did the interiors. Introductory weekend rates, through Sept. 8, start at $179. (877) 202-5411, www.kimptongroup.com.

The 237-room Sofitel Lafayette Square, near the White House, recycles another historic place, a 1920s Art Moderne former office building that was known as the Shoreham. It includes a 60-seat French restaurant and bar. Introductory rates, through Sept. 3, including breakfast, start at $179. (800) 763-4835, www.sofitel.com.

* Boston: A new hotel built from the ground up is a rarity in this lodging-starved city. The Nine Zero, which opened at 90 Tremont St. near Boston Common, adds 190 rooms to the mix. The brick-facade, 19-story building, managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, includes a 72-seat Provencal-style restaurant and bar. Introductory rates, through Sept. 4, start at $290. (866) 646-3937, www.ninezerohotel.com.

* Orlando, Fla., area: This tourist mecca has three new hotels. By far the most flamboyant is Loews' giant Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, which sprawls over 53 acres and has 1,000 rooms; a 12,000-square-foot pool (the largest in Orlando, say the hotel's operators); five restaurants and bars (not all are open yet); and tropical landscaping with waterfalls, palm trees and orchids. Room rates begin at $159. (800) 232-7827, www.loewshotels.com.

The 400-room Crowne Plaza Orlando Universal, a mile west of Universal Studios at 7800 Universal Blvd., includes a restaurant, cafe and bar, and a pool. Introductory rates, through Dec. 31, start at $85. (866) 864-8627, www.crowneplaza.com/universalfla.

The 304-room Orlando Marriott-Lake Mary, 1501 International Parkway, is about 25 miles from the Orlando airport. It has a "contemporary American" restaurant featuring local produce, a bar and a pool. Introductory rates, through July 31, start at $99. (800) 228-9290, www.marriott.com.

* Chicago: The prism-shaped, glass-sheathed Sofitel Chicago Water Tower at 30 E. Chestnut St., designed by French architect Jean-Paul Viguier, soars 32 stories above the Magnificent Mile area. It has 415 rooms, a cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant (opening in September)--and croissants baked on the premises. Introductory rates, through August, start at $159. (800) 763-4835, www.sofitel.com.

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