The iconic InterContinental Barclay hotel in New York is now closed fora a $175 million renovation. Photo courtesy of IHG.

New York’s iconic InterContinental Barclay hotel recently closed for a $175 million, top-to-bottom renovation. Travel Update photo courtesy of IHG.

Knowing how important New York’s InterContinental Barclay hotel is to readers, yesterday I called Herve Houdre – the hotel’s top executive – to get first-hand insights into the whopping $175 million renovation that he’s now overseeing. The hotel frequently hosts heads of state who are in town for the United Nations General Assembly and other events, as well as business travelers from around the world. The last hotel in Manhattan to get such an extensive renovation was the independent New York Palace, which last year completed a $160 million update.

Given that I’ve known Houdre since he ran – and improved – the InterContinental Willard (part of the Historic Hotels of America collection), I also gave him a personal heads-up on your comments. You can read all of those comments on my prior post, but here are some examples:

  • “The hotel definitely needed it,” Travel Update reader MSulli5402 wrote in my story’s comments section.
  • “IHG did a good job renovating LeGrand in Paris so they can do it if they try,” wrote reader Raffles.
  • “Hopefully a promising sign for things to come,” wrote reader PatMcPSU.

Below are highlights from my conversation with Houdre. For ease of reading, I’m presenting our talk in a Q&A format that I’ve edited for brevity and clarity. Enjoy!

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Q. We know the renovation will cost $175 million, but give Travel Update readers an idea of how extensive it will be. What does that mean?

A. It means that we are really doing the whole building. All the rooms are being gutted. All the corridors. We’re redoing the entire building inside from the main floor to the top floor. Every hotel must have this type of renovation every 40 years, and it’s time for us to do that.

Q. One reader asked about the need to close. Are you closing because construction is noisy?

A. It’s more than that. We’re going to be moving all our function space from the main floor and third floor to the second floor to make banquet space more efficient. The entire second floor will be dedicated to banquets and we’ll be creating a very large banquet kitchen. We are also creating two very large ballrooms and we will totally gut the lobby, so those are other reasons to close.

Q. When the renovation is complete, will people familiar with the InterContinental Barclay immediately see changes as they approach the building from the street?

A. We will improve the sense of arrival. There will be a revolving door in the center and one door on each side. I would say it won’t be much different, but the lobby will look completely different.

Readers: Come back to Travel Update tomorrow for Part II of our chat, which will give you insights into what the renovation will mean for guest rooms, Wi-Fi, dining options and more.