December 12, 2013

Iconic Portland hotel to reopen with new look, old bones

The renovated Eastland, now a Westin, mixes tradition with modern amenities after a $50 million renovation.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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The “S” of the old Eastland Hotel sign is visible out the window of the 15th-floor Presidential Suite of the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel. The hotel is keeping the iconic Eastland sign along its roofline as a nod to its past.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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The Ballroom of the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, formerly the Eastland, receives finishing touches in preparation for its grand reopening Thursday.

Additional Photos Below

The Eastland Hotel, then and now
 
Click to enlarge and compare photos of the Westin Portland Harborview's ballroom as it was in 1927 and in 2013.

beforeafter

The ballroom of the Eastland Hotel, now known as the Westin Portland Harborview, as it was in the 1920s and in 2013.

Historic photo courtesy of the collections of the Maine Historical Society

Contemporary photo by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

 

 

“Each of the branded properties all provide a certain level of service. The mix of hotels, prices and service offerings makes this a better destination overall,” Ouellette said.

OFF-SEASON TO CHALLENGE HOTELS

The Westin brand is part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. New Castle Hotels and Resorts and RockBridge Capital, a hotel investment firm, bought the former Eastland hotel in 2011. New Castle operates other properties in Maine, including the Hilton Garden Inn next to the Portland International Jetport and the Four Points Sheraton at the Bangor International Airport.

“This is the first flagship property in Maine for Westin/Starwood. It is that next step for the state and really fills a needed part of the market,” Ouellette said.

Dugal said it may take several years for the Portland market to absorb several new properties and find the right pricing strategies.

“It’s going to be interesting to see. Summer will take care of itself, but it’s the off-season that will require some period of adjustment,” he said.

“We haven’t been far off Boston numbers in the summer for the past few years,” Dugal said. “So the market can absorb an upper-end hotel in those months. The Westin is in a good niche because it creates additional rooms in that class. It’s the off-season when people will be looking for deals.”

LOTS OF ROOM FOR BIG EVENTS

Lodging revenues in Maine rose 5.9 percent in the first nine months of this year over the same period a year ago, according to the state’s Office of Policy and Management.

Hotel occupancy in Portland increased 4.6 percent in the first 10 months of the year, to 64.2 percent, according to the travel research firm STR. Occupancy rates ranged from a low of 37.5 percent in January to a high of 86.7 percent in August.

The average daily rate for a single room was $116.98 over the first 10 months of the year, up 5.5 percent from a year ago. The average rates ranged from $86.52 in January to a peak in August of $146.15, according to STR.

“There’s always variables such as the economy and weather, but I think there’s strong enough demand that there won’t be much price slippage in the market,” said Wennerstrom, the new hotel’s manager. “A lot of people who couldn’t get into the Portland market started moving into South Portland. So now there’s more opportunity to stay in Portland and have access to full services.”

Wennerstrom said the other hotels being developed won’t have the full range of services, such as a ballroom that can host as many as 300 people for dinner or 600 for a meeting, as well as conference spaces.

The hotel has already booked 12 weddings, many involving people whose parents or grandparents got married at the Eastland, Wennerstrom said.

“Among the other properties, there’s no place to have a full-size wedding,” he said. “We’re going after groups and events, as well as people looking for the Westin brand. People get very loyal to a brand.”

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com

@JessicaHallPPH

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Additional Photos

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