That previously Germanbrand of hotels, Dorint, is acquiring a littleje ne sais quoi now that it has come under the ownership of French group, Accor. The world's largest hotel and tourism group bought Dorint in December last year, but it's only now that the re-branding changes are becoming clear.
Some of the Dorint hotels were more stylish than others, with the Alten Wall in Hamburg and the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin leading the way, but they were primarily intended to be business hotels ? functional, in a slightly Teutonic way.
Now, though, you'll find the staff wearing uniforms designed by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, toiletries by Roger & Gallet or Hermes in the suite bathrooms, classical and contemporary artwork on the walls, and a francophile direction for the restaurants, influenced by the work of Michelin-starred chefs.
The deal made sense for both companies. Accor got an instant presence in the German market ? a region in which it was poorly represented ? and Dorint is a brand that is well respected in Germany, where there are more than 90 hotels of varying standards. For its part, Dorint gained access to the international market, and its guests now have the assurance of Accor standards in Germany. Now Accor, which also owns Sofitel, Mecure, Novotel, Ibis and Formula 1, is setting about re-branding the former Dorints. The top hotels are becoming Dorint Sofitels, while others will become Dorint Novotels. The resort properties retain the Dorint brand alone, while several other Dorints have become Mecure Hotels.
An implementation audit is under way, with over 1,000 different checks, but don't be surprised over the next few months to see a Dorint-branded coaster under your glass while your bathrobe is still adorned with a Dorint Sofitel badge.
It's all part of the expansion of the Sofitel brand ? 13 new hotels in last four years, with nine due to open soon. The latest is the Dorint Sofitel Bayerpost in Munich (see review below).
All of this is good news for business travellers familiar with the standards expected from Accor and Sofitel, especially given the good coverage of German business cities that Dorint Sofitel now covers. But it has not been all plain sailing. Some of Dorint's existing client base have appeared a little perplexed at check-in. For once, this is definitely more than a name change.
Review: Dorint Sofitel Bayerpost Munchen
The new Dorint Sofitel Bayerpost is centrally located in downtown Munich, the interiors a clever solution to the re-use of this listed building which was Munich's central post office. The sturdy turn-of-the-century facade, all big stone blocks and grand columns, is now a shell for the modern, mainly steel and glass, interior by designers, Klein and Harald. In fact, the interior sits beyond a spatial "moat", some 4 to 6m inside the outer walls. The resulting high voids create a great sense of space and are used for a library area, the Schwarz and Weiz restaurant and the Isarbar.
Guest rooms are crisp and business-like with plenty of raw materials ? ubiquitous dark wood furnishings, warm kalkstein in the bathrooms and leather trimmed chairs. Organza curtains and lamp shades in greys and magentas provide a gentle touch. Headboards are topped by a Steve McQueen image from the movie,The Getaway, and the glass-lined bathroom, with a large walk-in shower, is separated by a sliding mirrored wall ? a clever touch, like the "do not disturb" sign that can be switched on from your bedside.
The 396 guest rooms are set around a large glass-covered lobby that provides a so-called "alpenglow", or light of the sun rising over the nearby Alps. Glimpse the real thing from the 9th floor duplex suites. For alpenglow read orange glass ? but at least you look well first thing in the morning. Of course you could have been using the facilities in the subterranean Spa Lagune with it's spiralling pool leading to a Jacuzzi. More likely you were heading for the business centre or attend a meeting at one of the numerous conference rooms.
Price: E125 per night, excluding breakfast (opening rate until December 31, 2004).