Room at the inns

P, Joseph

Tarrytown House, a Dolce Conference Hotel in Tarrytown, received approval from the village board of trustees last week for an expansion plan that will add 64 guest rooms and various other spaces.

In seeking and receiving the approval, the facility is apparently demonstrating a fact that Westchester County hotels have known for some time: The way to increase business is to upgrade and renovate a property.

Hotels across the county have reported record numbers of guests this year, sending occupancy rates in some cases into the 90-percent range.

Tarrytown House is operated by Dolce International of Montvale, N.J., a leading operator of conference centers around the world. The company has been on an aggressive program of upgrading its facilities in recent years.

Kathy Deufemia, assistant to the Tarrytown village administrator, said Dolce was given permission to add 64 guest rooms to the current 148, a guest registration center, 73 parking spaces, an internal road connection for one-way circulation and a 1,100-square-foot covered terrace for dining and storage. Other changes to the conference center’s interior plan, entrances and exits and buildings were also included.

Twenty-six conditions were placed onto the site plan approval, but they were not available at press time.

Andrew Dolce, chairman and chief executive officer of Dolce International, said in a statement: “We are working very closely with the community and the village in going through the appropriate planning process. When it’s finished, it’s finished, and we hope to go ahead with the plan upon its completion.”

In 1997 Dolce International and AEW Partners II L.P. formed a limited partnership–Dolce/AEW L.P.–to fund an aggressive growth plan to acquire and develop conference center hotels and resorts in strategic locations in the United States and Europe.

Dolce International currently manages 11 properties and is the only global conference center management company with operations in the United States, Canada and Europe. AEW Partners II is an investment partnership organized and managed by AEW Capital Management (AEW). Based in Boston, Mass., AEW manages investments of more than $12 billion in real estate on behalf of institutional clients.

The Dolce/AEW partnership was initially funded with $200 million of investment capital. The first acquisitions were Tarrytown House and The Heritage, a conference resort in Southbury, Conn., that has been managed by Doloce since 1991.

Andrew Dolce has said the company is targeting Chicago, Ill., California, Florida, the London, England, area and other major destinations where customers indicated they would like to find a Dolce conference center.

Dolce International has announced plans to expand to 30 properties in five years. It recently assumed management of Oak Brook Hills Hotel & Resort, a 384-room, 150-acre conference resort in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Occupancy high

Earlier in the year, Westchester hotels ported record levels occupancy, thinks the strong economy as well as renovating, and modernization.

The Westchester Convention and Visitors Bureau said hotel occupancy was showing increases of 3 to 5 percent over last year, and the percentage of hotel occupancy was running from the high 70s to the 90s in some places.

Hotels like the Doral Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Rye Brook and the Renaissance Westchester Hotel in White mains reported occupancy running more than 10 percent above last year.

Others, like the Holiday Inn Mount Kisco and the Hampton Inn in Elmsford posted . more modest gains around 4 percent, while the Royal Regency Hotel Yonkers said that at this time of year, it is usually sold out.

All of these hotels did extensive renovations within the last two years, some costing as much as $10 million.

Copyright Westfair Communications Nov 30, 1998

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