Who says a great business hotel has to be classically attired? The model agencies and advertising shops in the vicinity of this glossy tower in New York's Meatpacking district tend to be run by T-shirt-clad executives, and the Gansevoort has the perfect vibe for its in-the-know vendors and clients who choose their hotel more by its coolness factor than the livery of its doorman. A lively social scene includes nightly crowds at Tanuki Tavern, the Japanese restaurant off the lobby, a spa that becomes a chic bar after sundown and the rooftop pool (rare for Manhattan), where the hip and stylish can work and network. Rooms are spare, elegant and highly functional.
The Umstead, 100 Woodland Pond, Cary, N.C.; (919) 887-2135. Best value.
SAS founder Jim Goodnight lobbied Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons to bring a world-class business hotel to the Research Triangle. When they demurred, he built his own beside a pond on the SAS campus. It feels like a Gustav Klimt painting come to life - all polished wood and gold and Art Nouveau accents. Rooms and suites are especially spacious, a benefit of Goodnight's already owning the land. Public spaces are calm, and all the business amenities are there, including 10,000 square feet of meeting space with conferencing capabilities and high-tech sound.
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Grand America, 555 S. Main St., Salt Lake City; (801) 258-6000. Value.
The Grand America is like a Ritz-Carlton built to massive scale but with genuine 17th century Flemish tapestries - and rates less than $200. A 24-story city block of white granite, the hotel has plush carpets, hand-crafted furniture and museum-quality artwork that give it a hushed, Old World feel. A deep concierge staff has contacts and resources to fulfill special requests; even the bellhops are ready to jump into a car and run an errand. Don't miss the 22,813-square-foot ballroom, part of 100,000 square feet of fully wired (and wireless) meeting space: It features 12-foot bronze and crystal Moscatelli chandeliers billed as the largest ever made.
Hilton Anatole, 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas; (214) 748-1200. Value.
The Anatole is both huge (1,606 rooms, 79 meeting rooms. more than 346,000 square feet of meeting space) and vast (it's set on 45 acres and includes a 7-acre sculpture park, 11 restaurants and bars and an 80,000-square-foot spa with two pools and a basketball court). Somehow, though, it still feels personal. Concierges at the new glass-and-leather Executive Lounge on the 25th floor, part of a $100 million renovation, facilitate in booking boardrooms and scoring Cowboys tickets, and rooms are warm and comfortable. A new-media bar with 27 plasma screens and an interactive dance floor opened in February.
Hyatt Place Chesapeake/Greenbrier, 709 Eden Way N., Chesapeake, Va.; (757) 312-0020. Value.
With the latest generation of Hyatt Place properties, the privately held company has perfected the value brand. Now the hotels are mostly new construction (the originals were revamped AmeriSuites). They remain understated without feeling stark and combine functionality and genuine style - at 1970s prices. This Hyatt Place, on a secluded side street just south of the Norfolk airport, may be the best yet. The standout staff is not merely well-trained but also empowered, and public spaces still look as if the hotel opened last week. The "e-room" business centre includes a complimentary computer with printer, and a 24-hour guest kitchen serves made-to-order meals and snacks. Best of all, room rates average around $110 a night.
InterContinental Buckhead, 3315 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta; (404) 946-9000.Mid-range.
Surprisingly opulent for a domestic InterContinental, the hotel has doorbells for each room, free shoe shines, huge bathrooms and a 24-hour Club Room stocked with snacks, all for rates starting at $179. An extensive business centre offers secretarial services, limousines and PDA rentals, and the elegant lap pool looks like a snapshot pulled from Warren Beatty's Bugsy. Unlike most Atlanta-area properties, this one is within walking distance of somewhere you actually might want to go.
Hotel Ivy, 201 S. 11th St., Minneapolis; (612) 746-4600.Mid-range.
The business hotels in Starwood's Luxury Collection are meant to have individual personalities yet offer the predictable comfort (and frequent-stay benefits) of a top chain. Set in a former headquarters of a Christian Science sect, Minneapolis' Ivy is the most accomplished. It has an urbane elegance - including a classic tea service held off the lobby each afternoon. But there's no sacrifice of functionality. Junior suites, especially, are ideal workspaces, and the spa is the city's best (fitness centre, sauna, steam room and whirlpool are free for guests). Access to 7 miles of connected skyway puts most of downtown within reach, a decided advantage during the six or so cold months of the year.