After seeing its opportunity to open a new hotel in Atlanta run into trouble with the foreclosure crisis two years ago, Mandarin Oriental is coming to Georgia's capital after all.
The company will announce Monday that Buckhead's Mansion on Peachtree -- the mixed-use project that is home to the 127-room Rosewood Hotel and several floors of million-dollar condominiums -- is being rebranded the Residences at Mandarin Oriental Atlanta. The change will take place in May.
“We are delighted to introduce Mandarin Oriental's renowned services and facilities to this important destination," Edouard Ettedgui, group chief executive of the Hong Kong-based company, said in a statement. He said it gives the group an opportunity to establish its brand "in one of America’s fastest-growing, cosmopolitan cities.”
Mandarin's entry into the Atlanta market is seen as a big win for the city because of the chain's status as an international brand -- especially considering the metro area's attempt to grow the Asian market.
"Mandarin has a much broader reach than the Rosewood and that will work symbiotically with the changes we expect with the new international terminal [at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport]," said Paul Breslin, managing partner of Panther Hospitality. "We will reach an audience that will stay here as opposed to using us as a pass-through to somewhere else."
If the economy had not nosedived in 2008, Mandarin might have already been in operation here. Tivoli Properties announced plans that year to build a 53-story tower on Peachtree Street in Midtown that would have housed a Mandarin hotel and condos starting around $1.8 million. But in January 2010 a foreclosure notice was placed on the property, 1138 Peachtree St., that the lodger would have been built on.
Mandarin's new home has had its troubles, too. The 42-story Mansion building was bought by its lead lender, iStar Financial, in February 2010 after it went into foreclosure. The building's condos have struggled to sell and Craft, New York restaurateur Tom Colicchio's free-standing eatery in front of the property, closed later that year.
“We are pleased to have signed this agreement with Mandarin Oriental, one of the world’s leading hotel operators," John Kubicko, a senior vice president at New York-based iStar, said in a release. "Mandarin Oriental’s reputation for excellence complements our efforts to position this property as Atlanta’s top luxury destination.”
Mark Woodworth, president of PKF Hospitality Research, said that, like Rosewood, Mandarin will have to build its name recognition here. While well known internationally and in cities such as New York and San Francisco, it's less familiar to Atlantans.
"But they are a very well-run brand and they certainly won't have any difficulty doing that," he said.