A facelift for a queen – renovating Queen Mary

Last April Urban Commons, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment and development firm, took over control of Queen Mary as part of a 66-year lease.

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The Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California

As part of the lease agreement Urban Commons intends to spend $15 million renovating the ship and a further $250 million to develop 45 acres of oceanfront land into a retail, dining and entertainment district, with 20 acres around the Queen Mary itself developed for boat slips and a marina.

The lease also calls for Urban Commons to sublet the Carnival Dome, the former home of the Spruce Goose (which is now on display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon), to Carnival Corporation who will use the facility as a cruise ship terminal.

During the first five years of the lease, Urban Commons will pass a maximum of $2.15 million per year in passenger fee revenues they receives from Carnival to the city. This will finance a fund to be used for historic preservation and site improvements. After the first five years (smaller) passenger fee payments will continue to flow to city. The company is also required to pay a minimum annual rent.

During an event on board Queen Mary, to celebrate her 80th anniversary, Urban Commons’ Taylor Woods revealed more details about the upcoming renovation of the ship.

The company plans to enhance the guest experience by enriching the rooms and creating a modernization of the existing infrastructure taking into account the heritage of the ship, the richness of the design and the art deco elements.

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Artist impression of a modernized stateroom ©Urban Commons

As part of the investment plan the hotel’s state rooms and suites will receive new sofas, mattresses and carpets, the bathroom fixtures and showers will be upgraded. Larger flat screen TVs and faster WiFi will be added to the modernised rooms.

The new sofas will be in the original Art Deco style and existing night stands, head boards and dressers will be refurbished. For this Urban Commons has contracted Brintons, a British manufacturer of carpets and also the designer of some of the original carpet on board, to recreate patterns that existed in 1936 when the ship embarked on its maiden voyage.

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Artist impression of the Churchill Suite, a suite on board Queen Mary ©Urban Commons

As part of the total overhaul the public spaces and restaurants will be transformed and new entertainment options will be introduced.

Near the front of the ship, Urban Commons plans to update the Observation Bar, formerly the Queen Mary’s first-class lounge. The new lounge will host more live music, while extended seating onto the deck should create an “indoor-outdoor” experience.

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Artist impression of a lounge on board the revamped Queen Mary © Urban Commons

During one of our road trips, back in 2007, we stayed at the Queen Mary Hotel. You can see more pictures from from that stay by visiting our post Queen Mary – history preserved.

Visitors will be able to tour the ship and stay at the Queen Mary Hotel during the renovations.

By the end of 2017 the Queen Mary should have the “luxuries of a boutique hotel with the feel of a bygone era”.

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