Hotel on Market, exterior

The DoubleTree Hotel downtown is undergoing a major renovation and plans to reopen as an independently branded lifestyle hotel. While work is underway, the hotel is operating as a 34-room boutique property called Hotel On Market. Provided/Hotel On Market. 

A large hotel near the historic City Market is reinventing itself. 

The DoubleTree Charleston Hotel is going through a major renovation and, when it reopens, will be an independently flagged lifestyle hotel. 

The new brand has not yet been announced, but, during the renovation process, the lodging is keeping 34 of its 212 guest rooms open. A temporary boutique concept launched as the Hotel on Market earlier this month. 

During the renovation process, all guest rooms will be redone, including work that will expand the hotel's bathroom facilities. Walls are being knocked down, and new amenity spaces, including a coffee shop and a new restaurant and bar concept, will be constructed. 

Some exterior improvements, like a fresh coat of paint for the facade and new signs and awnings, will also be done. The overall process will "touch every aspect of the hotel," said Brad Harvey, general manager. 

"It's almost like we're starting over," he said.

This will be the first rebranding for the hotel in more than 20 years and the first time it won't be attached to a major hotel chain. The hotel first opened as a Hawthorn Suites in 1991, and the flag was changed to DoubleTree in 1998.

A company led by longtime Market-area hotelier and restaurateur Hank Holliday sold the lodging, which is on leased land, for an undisclosed price to Columbus, Ohio-based Rockbridge.

The locally based hospitality management company Charlestowne Hotels, which was running the lodging as a DoubleTree, is overseeing the temporary Hotel on Market concept as well. 

Harvey said the pivot away from the Hilton brand was tied to a desire to make the property more unique to Charleston. 

"It's hard to do that when you're affiliated with a brand," Harvey said. 

Changes in the visitor market, including the city's increasing popularity with international travelers, has also changed the expectations that Charleston hotels, particularly in the heart of downtown, need to meet, he said. 

Over the last several years, boutique hotels, which include independently branded and soft-branded lodgings, have been among the fastest-growing segments nationwide. 

At least three of the newest hotels on the Charleston peninsula — Hotel Bennett, The Dewberry and The Spectator — are all independently branded properties. 

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Hotel Bella Grace sign (copy) (copy)

The Hotel Bella Grace on Calhoun Street is now being managed by Atlanta-based Davidson Hotels and Resorts. File/Staff

New management

An Atlanta-based hospitality company has taken over management of a recently-opened hotel on Calhoun Street. 

Davidson Hotels & Resorts will be managing Hotel Bella Grace, a 50-room boutique lodging that started welcoming guests last August. It will be the first hotel Davidson has managed in the Charleston market and will be affiliated with Pivot Hotels & Resorts, the lifestyle luxury arm of the business. 

The hotel's owner, Don Semmler, is a former Marriott executive vice president and also owns and operates the Andell Inn on Kiawah Island. 

The hotel also recently announced changes for the Delaney House, a historic building which was renovated for use as a breakfast area and amenity space for hotel guests. The two-story house is being turned over to Neighborhood Dining Group, which plans to open a seafood restaurant and raw bar there by mid-July. 

The dining group is behind some of the city's most popular restaurants, including Husk, McCrady's, McCrady's Tavern and Minero

Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.