North Brooklyn, home to hipsters, moms with strollers, and Williamsburg “trustafarians,” is getting its first hotel in decades — and a boutique hotel at that.
“It’s a colony of yuppies, and it’s still a trendy cultural community,” according to Mukesh Patel, the developer of Hotel Le Jolie, which opened Nov. 16 in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area. The new property is located at 235 Meeker Avenue near the Brooklyn Queens Expressway exit for Metropolitan Avenue. “I’m lucky. I’m right here before it all happens,” he said.
Patel sees a demand for boutique hotels in Brooklyn. He is also the developer of Hotel Le Bleu, a boutique hotel that opened Nov. 2 in Park Slope at 370 Fourth Avenue and 5th Street. By the end of 2009, Patel is confident he’ll have three more hotels opened.
As expensive condos multiply in Williamsburg and other North Brooklyn neighborhoods, bars, restaurants and galleries have followed, and they are attracting a steady flow of New Yorkers and tourists, even from as far away as Europe. But out-of-towners have few options for overnight accommodations.
“There’s no other hotel there — from the BQE all the way to Downtown Brooklyn — and it’s long overdue even though there is a lot of bi-directional traffic to and from Manhattan and it is a point from where many people commute,” he said.
It’s not just the newest hotspots that draw visitors. Patel is also banking on the lure of a Williamsburg landmark, Peter Luger Steakhouse on Broadway, a short distance from Le Jolie.
He expects that the 54-room Le Jolie will also attract tourists or business travelers who prefer the view of Manhattan’s skyline from across the river for rates that range from $225 a night and up, less than they would pay for a hotel stay in Midtown. According to Atlanta-based PKF Consulting, the average room rate in Manhattan is $276.58 per night. Room rates in boutique hotels can reach $900 in Manhattan, according to J.D. Parker, regional manager for Marcus & Millichap.
Le Jolie offers a remarkable vista. From “the third floor to the roof of the hotel, you see all of Manhattan,” said Patel.
There’s been a wave of new hotel openings in Brooklyn that until recently bypassed the North Brooklyn area. Marcus & Millichap estimates that 362 rooms were completed in 2007: 153 in the Park Slope/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill submarket, 93 servicing Downtown Brooklyn/Brooklyn Heights/Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, 62 for Brownsville/Ocean Hill, and 54 for Greenpoint/Williamsburg.
Planned construction, according to third-quarter data from Marcus & Millichap, adds another 1,689 rooms throughout Brooklyn, with most of them — 1,349 — in the Downtown and Park Slope areas.
If Le Bleu’s reservation books are any indication of how strong the market will be for new boutique hotels in the borough, hoteliers will be pleased. Patel said he is “nearly sold out the week or two before Christmas,” thanks to the out-of-town parents of the area’s young inhabitants.
“Parents, like many other people from out of town, would like to stay in an upscale, high-end hotel in Brooklyn, but there were none until recently. Now they won’t have to travel back to Manhattan, and it’s cheaper for them,” he noted.
He estimated that about 45 percent of guests who have been staying at Le Bleu are European tourists. One reason: “We focus on the details,” Patel said of the 48-room Le Bleu, which also features a restaurant.
In addition to foreign tourists, Patel predicted that Le Jolie would attract academics and lawyers who are visiting Downtown Brooklyn’s schools and court system.
The two hotels are part of a larger 24-hotel chain managed by Globiwest International Management & Services based in Artesia, Calif. Le Bleu is the first boutique hotel in the group, and Patel is convinced that the boutique clientele will get hooked on the level of service offered at his hotels.
“The bellman is at the door waiting and greeting guests. After checking in, he brings the luggage and guests all the way to their room and alerts them to all the features in the room,” the hotelier explained, noting there are also charging stations for iPods.
Patel wants to bring this level of service to his other hotels. He’s planning another boutique in Williamsburg and is looking for a location within a mile of Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development in Downtown Brooklyn, where he predicts sporting events, business conventions, increased tourism and even weddings will draw more guests to his hotels.