Pasadena Ritz-Carlton to be rebranded

Times Staff Writer

Pasadena won't be putting on the Ritz much longer. On Jan. 8, the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa will be renamed the Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena, and its new owners are planning a $25-million renovation.

The 392-room property, sold in October by two partnerships controlled by the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Assn., will become part of Langham Hotels International, an eight-property luxury hotel group owned by Hong Kong-based Great Eagle Holdings, a Ritz-Carlton spokesman said.

The sale isn't just a simple reflagging. Sherona Shng, group communications director for Langham Hotels, said the company had budgeted $25 million to upgrade and renovate the restaurants, cottages, bars, spa and landscaping. A marketing campaign will be launched before the January transition to begin positioning the hotel as a high-end property, she said.

"The Langham brand is aimed squarely at the top tier of luxury traveler," Shng said. The hotel is likely to raise its rates, which this weekend begin at $279 a night.

"The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena will, in the short term, operate at rates which can be compared to the former Ritz-Carlton, and as we invest in and upgrade the property we would be looking to gain a premium on current room rates," she said.

Staff members of the hotel met Monday to discuss the transition, which is expected to have minimal immediate effect on guests, said Vivian Deuschl, vice president of public relations for Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.

"People who have plans at the hotel should feel very confident that until the takeover it will remain a Ritz and will be operated in the same way that it has been," Deuschl said.

The continuity plan includes the hotel's restaurant, the Dining Room, which was awarded its first Michelin star this month.

"We are committed to retaining the services of Chef [Craig] Strong to maintain and develop the reputation and quality of the Michelin star restaurant," Shng said.

Great Eagle owns or manages commercial and residential real estate on four continents. Among its hotel properties are Langham hotels in Boston, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong and the Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. The Pasadena hotel represents the firm's first entry into the West Coast market.

In August, hotel employees filed a lawsuit alleging that they were forced to work through breaks and were not paid overtime. Pasadena lawyer Randy Renick, who filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, could not be reached for comment.

Shng said that initially the hotel would be concentrating on a program "to welcome and develop the existing associates into the Langham family."

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valli.herman@latimes.com

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