25 years in, Cleveland's Ritz-Carlton shines in its new polishing

The Ritz-Carlton re-established itself as one of Cleveland’s most luxurious hotels last week with the near-completion of a 18-month total makeover.

“It’s like a jewel that you’ve had for a long time, and when you shine it, a diamond comes out,” says Ritz-Carlton general manager Yael Ron, who led last Friday's ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Frank Jackson and other notables. “It’s super exciting.”

The project began in July 2016, kicking off the hotel’s 25-year anniversary with a top-to-bottom renovation. The Ritz-Carlton, owned by Detroit-based developer Bedrock, was essentially gutted by general contractor Albert M. Higley Company. The hotel celebrated its renovation with an unveiling on Friday, Oct. 27.

“We demolished most of the hotel and re-did it,” explains Ron. “The hotel needed a lift—it needed a renovation. The concept behind it is we want to humbly represent the city. We want to be ambassadors for the city and show what a fantastic place this is.”

While Ron says the Ritz-Carlton wants to be humble, the hotel is once again one of the most luxurious in Northeast Ohio. (It had previously claimed that title in Cleveland, having been named U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Hotel Within [Its] Market” in 2016.) 

The rooms, decorated in colors inspired by Lake Erie, feature state-of-the-art technology and sensor lighting, 55” to 60” smart TVs with Netflix and streaming access, marble bathrooms with shower bench seating and oversized tubs, and prime views of downtown and the lake. The rooms were designed by Detroit-based dPOP and Boston-based Jinnie Kim design.

“Everything’s new; there’s nothing of the old rooms,” Ron says. “The floors were taken out, [and] we really demolished the rooms and built them back up.”

The CORE Fitness Center features advanced exercise equipment (geared toward pro athletes and team trainers who frequent the hotel), while a fitness-on-demand wall offers virtual workout classes. There is a private fitness studio, as well as a movement studio with yoga mats, kettlebells, and Plyo sets. Sessions with personal trainers who work with Cleveland’s professional sports stars are an optional perk at CORE. Memberships to locals are available, says Ron, adding, “This is not just for people coming from out of town.”

The Links culinary meeting center features a full kitchen and caters to both business groups and private parties, while all the public spaces have been renovated, including the street-level arrival area and sixth floor lobby and gathering space.

Helmed by chefs Richard Arnoldi and Josh Nahm, the new TURN Bar + Kitchen features breakfast, lunch, dinner, late-night dining, and grab-and-go snacks utilizing locally-sourced ingredients. The space—designed by San Francisco-based EDG Design—is open and airy with views of downtown, a fireplace, and a 30-seat marble bar.

Naturally, TURN will also serve high tea. “Some things don’t change,” Ron says.

The feel of the new Ritz-Carlton is pure extravagance, says Ron. “This may not be a hotel for everyone, but it is for those who enjoy luxury,” she says. “This is a city of proud people, and they deserve a nice hotel. It’s really worth seeing.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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