Sonesta Baltimore, Philadelphia, Hilton Head & Houston Signal Brand’s Global Rebirth

Sonesta Philly

Sonesta International Hotels restructured with new partners this past winter in a bid to expand the brand worldwide, while maintaining existing management. So far, four hotels have been rebranded in the U.S., and new renovations are in development for all of them.

The 195-room Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore overlooks the city’s picturesque Inner Harbor within walking distance to the convention center. Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island features 340 rooms and 20,000 sf of meeting space, including an oceanfront pavilion. The 485-room Royal Sonesta Hotel Houston with 50,000 sf of group space is only blocks from The Galleria. And the 445-room Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia is minutes away from the convention center and plethora of historical and cultural attractions/venues in the downtown core. Total meeting space is 16,000 sf.

Presently there are 53 Sonesta hotels around the world from Colombia to Egypt—with 24 in the U.S.­—including a new “ES” extended stay product. Sonesta also operates five cruise ships plying the Nile River between Luxor and Aswan, complementing hotels in Cairo and spa resorts in Sharm el Sheikh. The Egypt hotels/boats are managed by Sonesta, versus franchisees, and there’s a Sonesta office in Cairo that works often with U.S.-based corporate groups.


We booked the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore for AIBTM this summer, after having visited for dinner the year before. Its location a primary attraction, the hotel sits at the edge of the harbor just outside the hustle of downtown. So you can walk right out of lobby and onto the boardwalk across the street and all of the many restaurants and attractions along the waterfront. A cab ride is under $5 to the convention center, or you can easily walk the five blocks.

Entering the hotel, there’s a pervasive sense of calm with a large library off the lobby and grand staircase curling up to the second floor Brightons restaurant, Explorers Lounge and 10,200 sf of meeting rooms. We especially like the 2,600-sf Whitehall Ballroom with big windows framing the harbor.

Standard guestrooms are among the largest in Baltimore starting at 420 sf and up, while 22 suites range from 1,100-1,800 sf. And the hotel is about to start a $30 million renovation scheduled for completion in early 2014.

“This hotel is so special is because it’s an oasis of distinct elegance, supported by warm service, that’s close to everything groups need,” says Mary Sipes, business travel manager.