Delayed two years by pandemic, Nobu joins elite sister properties around the globe

The luxury hotelier Nobu opened its long-awaited Atlanta hotel on Wednesday at Buckhead’s Phipps Plaza, a project slowed by the pandemic but one that debuts amid a rebound in business and leisure travel.

The Nobu Hotel Atlanta and its flagship restaurant were first announced in 2017, a headline-grabbing anchor for an ambitious reinvention of Phipps that also includes a 12-story office tower. The hotel was slated to open in 2020 but COVID-19 delayed those plans.

“We’ve come through COVID and come out stronger,” said Nobu Hospitality Group CEO Trevor Horwell. “And we’ve reached Atlanta at just the right time.”

Named for acclaimed chef, Japanese fusion cuisine icon and company co-founder Nobu Matsuhisa, Nobu is one of the world’s most coveted hospitality brands. Nobu partners include actor and director Robert De Niro and film producer Meir Teper.

Nobu restaurants launched more than three decades ago and the company has since branched out into hotels. There are now more than a dozen hotels scattered across the globe, including in London, Barcelona, Sao Paulo and Riyadh.

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Jim Durrett, CEO of the Buckhead Coalition, said the Nobu hotel is the first newly built luxury hotel to open in Buckhead since the St. Regis opened in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The Nobu joins a pantheon of top brands in the city, including the St. Regis, Waldorf Astoria, Ritz-Carlton, Loew’s and Four Seasons.

Over the years, Simon Properties and partners have injected hundreds of millions of dollars into Phipps, including apartments and restaurants on the mall’s periphery. But the biggest change came with the announcement five years ago that Nobu, offices and and a Lifetime fitness center and co-working space would replace a tired Belk department store.

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The investments have helped Phipps Plaza evolve into a mixed-use development and entertainment center.

Horwell said the Atlanta Nobu will rely on a mix of leisure guests on weekends and business travelers during the work week. The One Phipps Plaza office tower, which has landed Goldman Sachs and Novellis as tenants, is expected to open next year and will help fuel business travel demand.

The Nobu hotel features 152 guest rooms and suites.

Rooms listed for dates in December on the Nobu website start at $395 a night but quickly rise to near $1,000 per night for larger suites. The Nobu Villa, 2,300-square-foot presidential suite, which is not yet available, will likely command a far higher rate.

“We’ve been very, very lucky. We rebounded very fast. We had our best year in our history last year,” Horwell said.

Though there are economic storm clouds on the horizon as the Federal Reserve fights inflation and some companies pull back from hiring, Horwell said Nobu hasn’t seen signs of a recession in its numbers.

Citizens Culinary Market, an upscale food hall, also will open soon. In September, Simon announced Hermès, one of the world’s top luxury brands, will open a new boutique a Phipps in summer 2024, relocating from the Buckhead Village District. Another 14 high-end retailers will join Hermès in 2024, Simon officials have said.