Radisson Hotel Chain Making Big Changes

The name “Radisson” is synonymous with fairly decent hotels available in 420 locations across 73 countries. To say they’ve successfully built a bit of an empire is an understatement, but every kingdom needs regular retooling to stay large and competitive. To that end, Radisson is in the midst of a big shift called “Ambition 2015” to keep themselves fresh.

History of Radisson

The hotel giant first got its start over a hundred years ago in 1909 in Minneapolis, and was named in honor of French explorer and fur trader Pierre Radisson. The hotel quickly grew in size after that until it was bought and expanded by Curt Carlson in 1962, becoming the international chain that’s so well known today.

Part of the hotel’s marketing appeal was to tweak the name slightly to attract customers internationally, with Radisson Blu the one most often used in Europe, Africa and Asia. Along with the luxury-line Blu Edwardian, Radisson Blu can be found on 158 hotels—with 74 in Russia alone—and Carlson Rezidor (the managing group) plans to add another 42 projects. The following is some of their more notable renovations in North America.

Ambition 2015

This is the name of the Radisson’s five-year makeover plan to redesign all the Radisson properties in Canada and the U.S., and has so far completed about 75% of the work. Part of “Ambition 2015” was also to eliminate hotels that weren’t doing as well as expected, and replace them with 4,200 new rooms that should do better.

The significance of this has been that Radisson increased its score in the J.D. Power and Associates’ 2013 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study more than any other hotel brand. Further solidifying their name, Radisson also improved its Business Travel News score more than every other high-end hotel in the 2013 Hotel Chain Survey.

New Radisson Brands: Red and Quorvus

One of the elements of expanding but still staying relevant is to create “sub-labels”, much the way that Giorgio Armani has under his belt the labels Giorgio Armani, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, AJ | Armani Jeans, AX | Armani Exchange, Armani Junior, and Armani Casa. It’s a way of making the same core brand accessible to a wider demographic by scaling the price and style of each hotel.

The Quorvus collection, a super luxury line, is expected to open 20 hotels by 2020, while the Red collection will be launched next year with 60 hotels in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East.

Each collection has been designed with a specific theme in mind: Quorvus hotels will be patterned after their city’s style and architecture to seamlessly blend in, while Red hotels are designed to be contemporary, eclectic-looking, and “technology-driven.” With the latter, guests will be able to use their smartphones for a wide variety of options, like checking in, getting a cab, buying flowers from the concierge, and ordering drinks from the bar.


The Orlando Sentinel estimates that hotels usually get majorly made over every seven years, and points to the 718-room Radisson near celebration as much needing the repairs that have not happened for 15 years.

But now, the Radisson—thanks to investors in Florida chipping in $10 million—is in fighting shape, with updated carpets, beds, tubs, corridors, and elevators, bringing the 26-year-old hotel into the 21st century.


Close to the Central Coast, in Santa Maria, another Radisson hotel has just been upgraded, with just $2 million needed for this remodel. The hotel is a bit on the smaller side at only 184 guestrooms, but both those and the lobby have been remodeled. In the former, guests can expect to find new bedding, a more modern color scheme, and better lighting, fridges, artwork, and window treatments.

In terms of overall aesthetics, the Santa Maria Radisson also includes new furniture in the lobby with a more comfortable seating area, new floors, updated walls, and remodeled lounge, outdoor pool, business and fitness centers, and an updated 9,000 square foot, 320-capacity meeting space.

Amy Wright
Amy Wright is the Lead Editor of Remodeling Central. When she isn't playing with her dogs she is trying to remodel a classic Chicago style brownstone with her husband.

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