Sixteen months and $ 15 million later, the Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel is back.
On September 7, the hotel – known as the Sheraton Europa until ATMA Hotel Group bought it in 2019 – reopened to the public following a comprehensive renovation. With these updates, the hotel hopes to connect travelers with the community and provide event space at Chapel Hill.
Located just 10 minutes from the heart of the UNC campus, the Sheraton Chapel Hill now boasts 172 redesigned guest rooms, a contemporary bar and restaurant, soundproof cabins in the lobby, new safety protocols for air filtration , a 7,000 square foot rooftop terrace, full outdoor patio and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
âIt was basically gutted and reassembled,â said Mark Nelson, director of sales and marketing at Sheraton Chapel Hill. “For someone who has seen it before and someone who has seen it today, they won’t recognize it.”
Nelson said he sees this hotel as a long-term project that embodies the vibrant and growing community of Chapel Hill.
âThis area is going to continue to be really powerful – an almost economically isolated area that is still a very successful destination,â he said.
The hotel is one of 60 hotels in the world to boast this new Sheraton style, which the company says aims to improve community engagement and connectivity, Nelson said. The new âCommunity Tableâ with individual charging ports allows up to 10 visitors to sit together and finish their work. Nelson said he believes this deliberate design would be appealing to single travelers looking to embrace the community.
Additionally, the lobby features a reimagined community public space that aims to bring visitors together with a coffee bar and central seating.
âThe idea was to design it as a modern day public square,â Nelson said. “It is a gathering place like the pit.”
Manish Atma, president and CEO of ATMA Hotel Group, said Chapel Hill lacked a premier venue for businesses to come together collectively. He said the Sheraton Chapel Hill can fill that void.
With 18,000 square feet of meeting and event space, the Sheraton Chapel Hill has already attracted touring sports teams and larger organizations, said Atma.
âThis is probably the first full service hotel in Chapel Hill right now,â Atma said.
Laurie Paolicelli, executive director of the Chapel Hill / Orange County Visitors Bureau, said she believes these new renovations will give Chapel Hill’s growing economy a long-term boost.
âIt propels this field into a new market and allows us to go after bigger meetings,â she said.
Paolicelli said the renovations were aimed at attracting larger gatherings like weddings, reunions, cultural celebrations and quinceaÃ±eras.
Although renovation plans were already in place before the pandemic began, Nelson said the Sheraton Chapel Hill took the opportunity to close amid the global decline in travel.
âIt turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it gave us the opportunity to really shut down,â Nelson said. âLet’s go ahead and do it while COVID is happening. “
Paolicelli said she believes the hotel is now fit for lasting success. But, for now, she said she recognizes that many companies are still choosing not to travel during the pandemic.
âIn the long run, this will definitely be a huge boost to Chapel Hill’s economy,â Paolicelli said. âIn the short term, we have a few tough months ahead, and we’ll try to reinvent how we can market this space. “
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