APRIL FOOLS — Sarasotans know luxury. That’s one reason why the Ritz-Carlton is so successful and why the Waldorf-Astoria brand of hotels once sought to place a signature resort on Tamiami Trail, just north of downtown.
Two years ago, those plans were scuttled, but the upscale Hilton company is once again looking at Sarasota and is eyeing the vacant lot next to the Palm Avenue parking garage.
A Waldof-Astoria was to be part of the $1 billion Proscenium project, which also included a Broadway-style theater, designer shops and luxury condos.
When the project fell apart, the Waldorf-Astoria dropped Sarasota from its expansion plans.
But with the economy in the state it’s in, parent company Hilton believes consumers are ready for “affordable luxury,” so it has created an “express” version of its Waldorf-Astoria brand — The Walter.
Hilton saw the success of the Holiday Inn Express and how satisfied even a one-night stay left its customers. The company secretly worked on the low-scale alternative for 18 months. It was revealed last week that Hilton is in the final stages of negotiations to make Sarasota the site of the first Walter hotel.
“It’s exciting to once again talk about welcoming the Waldorf, I mean The Walter,” said Sarasota’s economic development chief.
For several months, the city has been seeking a hotel to build next to the parking garage, and it appears that search has ended.
The Walter’s amenities are much more pedestrian that its upscale parent (see box at left).
Nightly rates at some of the Waldorf’s 16 global locations can run up to $1,000, but The Walter will only cost its customers $99 per night.
Although the Manhattan Waldorf has a package in which guests also get the use of a Bentley sedan, The Walter will provide a Hyundai Sonata — and a parking space at the Palm Avenue garage.
The Walter’s spa services include a body scrub with table salt applied with a Tarpon Springs sponge, and the hotel has partnered with Bobby Jones Golf Course to provide guests with greens fees reduced by 15% for weekday rounds starting before 6:45 a.m.
The Walter’s version of a Waldorf salad includes iceberg lettuce, boiled peanuts and Wishbone dressing.
The Walter is pleased to offer several exciting in-room amenities to make a guest's stay more comfortable.
• Ikea bedding
• Hot plate
• Coffee maker
• Two pillows (when available)
• Plastic drinking cups
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected]