Sotherly Hotels Inc. is relaunching the former Hilton Savannah DeSoto in Georgia as an independent boutique concept, following a $9.4 million conversion. The renovation, spearheaded by Resort Interiors of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, involves the property’s 245 guest rooms and several public spaces. That work started last year and is slated to be completed later this summer.
“We are excited to complete the renovation and to position The DeSoto as Savannah’s premier boutique property once again, just as it was when it first opened in 1890,” says Sotherly Hotels ceo Drew Sims. “There is no better fit for our collection of boutique hotels than The DeSoto, with its legacy dating back more than a century and its picturesque location in the heart of Savannah’s sought-after Historic District.”
The majority of the renovation—which includes the lobby, pool, meeting space and restaurants—is focused on upgrading the property’s finishes and amenities to recapture The DeSoto’s historic identity, project participants say. Updated guest rooms feature hardwood flooring, spa-like baths with marble walk-in showers, plush seating, full-length dressing mirrors, updated window treatments and wall coverings, and new bedding.
The project also involves reconfiguring/rebranding the hotel’s three F&B outlets. The former Lion’s Den Pub has been transformed into Edgar’s Proof & Provision, which features new indoor and outdoor seating areas, and the former lobby coffee bar has been expanded into Buffalo Bayou Coffee. In addition, the previous DeSoto Grille space is slated to reopen later this month as the 1540 Room, which will be decked out with a show kitchen and updated fixtures and furnishings.
The DeSoto is also home to a curated art gallery that starts in the hotel’s lobby and continues through the first-floor public areas. Following suit with Sotherly’s other hotels, the gallery features original works by students, faculty and alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
The original DeSoto Hotel was designed by Boston architect Williams Gibbons Preston and opened on New Year’s Eve in 1890. In 1965, that hotel permanently closed, and the property reopened three years later in a different building as the Hilton Savannah DeSoto. Located on the site of General Oglethorpe’s barracks, that then-new 15-story structure was designed by Atlanta architect Richard Aeck in contemporary style, but retained some elements of the original building, including the terra cotta artwork and crystal chandeliers, which are still on display today.
Sotherly purchased the Hilton Savannah DeSoto in 2004 and put it through a $12 million renovation in 2008. In preparation for the property’s relaunch as an independent property, the company started the latest round of renovations last year.
The Williamsburg, Virginia-based lodging REIT’s collection of independent boutiques includes The Georgian Terrace in Atlanta, The Whitehall in Houston and the Hyde Resort & Residences in Hollywood, Florida. In all, the company’s portfolio consists of investments in 11 hotels, in addition to its interest in the Hyde.