Monday, April 16, 2018

[SOURCE] The Ritz-Carlton to Return to Buckhead

A well placed source indicates that plans are being finalized to turn the former Houston's restaurant parcel and the adjacent former Ruby Tuesday restaurant property into a new The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Buckhead.  The Ruby Tuesday property is currently occupied by Katana, a Japanese restaurant.  Combined, the two properties are about 1.54 acres, according to Fulton County property records.
As ToNeTo Atlanta was first to report, Houston's closed its landmark Buckhead restaurant last month after about 40 years in business.  The restaurant cited an inability to come to terms on a new lease as the reason for closing the restaurant that generated nearly $10 million in annual revenue.  

A return of The Ritz-Carlton to Buckhead would not be surprising.  The former The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead was deflagged this past November, just shy of 35 years in business.  The replacement hotel, The Whitley, part of Marriott's "The Luxury Collection," has reportedly not performed well and is hemorrhaging staff.  The Whitley is reportedly behind its 2018 budget by about $10 million. Its Easter brunch as The Ritz last year drew about 800 covers, but only about 100 this year as The Whitley. 

In an effort to put "heads in beds," The Whitley is offering room nights at an unheard of $120 per night in some cases, well below any rate ever offered by its predecessor.  The low average daily rate (ADR) is not only causing budgetary shortfalls but attracting cost conscious guests who are not as likely to tip the hotel's largely hourly, gratuity dependent workforce.  

The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead was not old and historic nor new and modern.  It was in that unfortunate place for a luxury hotel to be: stale.  The construction of a new The Ritz-Carlton would allow the company to do something it could never do at its former Buckhead property - start from scratch.  

The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead opened in 1983 with 550 rooms.  Today, even after converting some rooms to a spa and enlarging others, the hotel still has over 500 rooms.  Luxury city hotels of today simply aren't built as large as the original Ritz was.  

A return of The Ritz to Buckhead would likely come in the form of a hotel no larger than 250 rooms.  While The St. Regis Atlanta (151 rooms) and Mandarin Oriental Atlanta (127 rooms), both in Buckhead and each within The Ritz's "comp set" each have residences on top of the hotel, the new Ritz likely would not.  The Ritz-Carlton Residences (3630 Peachtree Road) opened in 2011 and its 127 units are located less than a mile from the likely Ritz hotel site. 

As far as land goes, the Mandarin property, with 42 floors, 127 hotel rooms, 45 residential units and freestanding Del Frisco's Grille restaurant, sit on about 1.57 acres according to Fulton County tax records.  Given that the Ritz would likely be no more than 250 rooms with no condos and likely an underground deck parking, it's completely feasible to consider the approximately 1.54 acre Houston's/Katana site.  

While a Lenox Road and East Paces Ferry Road address is not nearly as prestigious as Peachtree and Lenox Roads, it still offers great access to Lenox Square and even better access to MARTA for those rare Ritz patrons electing to take public transit.  The Houston's site is also across the street from the JW Marriott, a sibling brand in the Marriott International hotel family.  

ToNeTo Atlanta reached out to Tori Allen of Tori Allen PR who handles public relations on behalf of Katana for comment on the potential closure.  Allen said of our question, "We don't have any information at this time, so our official comment is 'no comment.'"

When asked about the prospect of The Ritz-Carlton returning to Buckhead, a spokesperson for the brand said: "The Ritz-Carlton is always looking towards the future and for the right opportunities with the right owner partners, but cannot confirm any new developments at this time. The Ritz-Carlton remains committed to the vibrant Atlanta metro area market with The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta and The Ritz- Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee."

Fulton County property records indicate that the Houston's property is currently owned by "Regional Realty."  Fulton County values the .93 acre parcel of land at  $1,742,200  and the 7,000 square foot building on the property at an additional $949,500 for a combined total of $2,691,700. 

Fulton County property records indicate that the Katana property is currently owned by "Kerker Jacob Et AL."  Fulton County values the .61 acre parcel of land at $2,041,200 and the 5,324 square foot building at $466,100 for a combined total of $2,507,300.  


While there has definitely been damage done to guest perception of The Ritz brand first as a result of its aging property, and later its deflagging, a return to Buckhead so soon could help to salvage the remaining brand equity it has left in the market.  

Are you excited by the possibility of a return of The Ritz-Carlton hotel to Buckhead?  Did you stop going going to The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead property after its conversion to The Whitley?  What is your favorite luxury hotel brand?

Please share your thoughts below.  

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice. No way they were going to have the downtown hotel be their only property in such an important market.

Anonymous said...

The best part about the Ritz Buckhead was the Lobby/Bar/Dining Room. As someone who visited from Los Angeles once or twice a year for many years, I loved those wood paneled walls with that old school club vibe. You can't find that anywhere any more. And Christmas time in that setting was the best!
We were hesitant to ever go again after learning of all the changes, but we did and a previous ritz-staff member helped us at the front desk and was wonderful.
The bar and restaurant are now reminiscent of a hip Las Vegas hotel. Cold lighting and no windows in the grey dining room. TVs and flashy metallic trim over the bar as your focal point in the lounge. The old fireplace is gone.
Fortunately, the lobby was basically the same.

We were so upset to hear about the changes but ultimately still stayed because the other luxury hotels in buckhead are so much more expensive.

Anonymous said...

Stayed at the former Ritz Buckhead recently using a Priceline deal. There is definitely a hip hop element that has by all intents and purposes taken over the hotel, probably because the rates are so low. Gone are the days of high teas and white tablecloths. In the once-elegant lobby, you're now more likely to hear the gaudy beats of Future than the soft melodies of Bach.

Anonymous said...

Catering to the wrong customers, could be attractive to a troublesome element. Probably bringing in many bad actors, ultimately the downfall of any neighborhood. Buckhead long ago was a fun, safe place, first stop out of college type of night life, and then it wasn't. Ultimately the consumers will vote with the pocket, determining success or failure leading to change and rebirth.

Buckhead Rebirth, was it successful: https://www.ajc.com/news/ray-lewis-atlanta-legacy-not-storied/FFZpIyi9k9m7TJNMmkifKK/

Anonymous said...

When you mainstream luxury you lose cache - and loyal customers with real wealth

Anonymous said...

This is a terrible move for the Ritz Carlton. We all know what happened when Lenox Marta Station opened 20 something years ago! More crime and more thugs-NOT what the Ritz Carlton needs. The Ritz needs to be warned.

Anonymous said...

Wow these comments are a who's who of racist code words. "Hip hop element" and of course "thugs". Are black people not allowed in Buckhead?

Anonymous said...

The Houstons that shut down is on Peachtree not Lenox and East Paces. You have the sites mixed up.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: Sites mixed up.

I appreciate your readership and comments but please understand that no, I'm not mixed up and the Houston's that closed is on Lenox Road by Lenox Square. Local entertainer TI did "shut down" the Peachtree Road location near Colonial Homes Drive last year as part of a protest but his boycott has ended and that location is very much still in business.

Anonymous said...

"Wow these comments are a who's who of racist code words. "Hip hop element" and of course "thugs". Are black people not allowed in Buckhead?"

Your manufactured outrage doesn't work anymore, except at Starbucks (an uber liberal) company. Watching liberals eat their own is priceless. Run along now to your BLM paid protesting job.

When everything is racist - nothing is Racist.

Anonymous said...

@Anon RE: Sites mixed up.

You should really do some research before posting comments. It literally takes 20 seconds to look at Google Maps to confirm a location and Google to confirm if a restaurant is open/closed. Instead you just look foolish.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the Ritz Buckhead. When the bar and dining room were remodeled it destroyed that 'clubby feel' that was special. And worse the great fireplace is gone. Sad to hear that the Whitley is having tough times but the owners have only themselves to blame. THEY screwed it up.

Anonymous said...

No one said black people. It wasn’t a generalization. It’s thugs and the hip hop element. That element is welcomed by any race