For more than 100 years, there has been a Radisson hotel in downtown Minneapolis.
It was the property on 7th Street, first built in 1909, that launched the hotel career of Minnesota business legend Curt Carlson when he acquired it in 1962.
It hosted presidents and foreign dignitaries — including Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev — served as a career stop for entertainers like George Gobel and Phyllis Diller and provided the romantic backdrop for too many date nights to count with its Golden Strings violin orchestra and the Flame Room.
It even became a trivia footnote in the 1996 movie Fargo.
“Ya know, it’s the Radisson so it’s pretty good,” Mike Yanagita tells high school classmate Marge Gunderson when the two characters get together to reminisce about old times.
But next month the Radisson will reopen as a Radisson Blu, the new luxury version of the Radisson name and only the fourth of its brand in the United States.
Guests at the new Blu will be greeted by an estimated $28 million renovation that includes an 18-story lobby atrium, theater-themed canopies highlighted by tiny LED lights and a TV the size of an entire wall.
The hotel’s 360 rooms feature “Scandinavian simplicity” in their decor as well as “subtle nods” to local cultural notations such as the 612 and 651 area codes above the beds’ headboards.
Rates will range from $199 a night for basic rooms to $259 a night for a luxury suite as Carlson and its Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group attempt to gain a foothold in the luxury hotel mark.
The Radisson Blu also will offer 29,000 square feet of flexible space for meetings and events.
The Radisson’s FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar has been updated as well for the Blu designation.
“This is a great flag to have in downtown Minneapolis,” said Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “It’s another indicator that Minneapolis has one of the stronger hotel markets in the country.”
Just last week another luxury chain announced it was moving into the Twin Cities market when Loews said it had acquired the Graves 601 Hotel near Target Center. In addition, a $106 million upper-end J.W. Marriott is slated for construction at the Mall of America in Bloomington where the Twin Cities’ first Radisson Blu has been open for more than a year. The new Vikings stadium has also spawned a proposed millennial-oriented Radisson Red hotel in the Downtown East neighborhood.
Javier Rosenberg, chief operating officer of Radisson Americas, called Minneapolis “one of the country’s most hospitable cities.”
The Minneapolis Radisson property is owned by California-based Chartres Lodging Group, which acquired the hotel for $28 million from Carlson last year. Terms of the sale included a long-term management contract with the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Chartres also owns a Radisson Blu in Philadelphia. A fourth Blu is in Chicago.
“We’ve always had Minneapolis on our radar. But we’re finicky about location and this asset is in a great location,” Matthew Cox, Chartres’ vice president for asset management, said in an interview. “We look for a strong variety of demand — leisure, corporate, convention and sports — and this market fits that bill.”
Cox called the Radisson Blu brand “a clean upper-upscale product that is not pretentious.”
“Having Carlson [headquarters] close by gave us assurance that the Radisson Blu would be a huge success in this market,” Cox added.
The downtown Radisson was the first hotel acquired by Curt Carlson, the late patriarch of the company today known as Carlson. Radisson went on to become a national and international brand, although in recent years the brand struggled against competitors such as the Hilton Garden Inn and SpringHill Suites.
The Blu concept was designed to revitalize the Radisson brand with a more upscale audience while the older Radisson brand went through its own makeover.
There currently are more than 270 Radisson Blu hotels located in 62 countries.