Re-branded Dolce International Embraces Hotels, Resorts

Dolce International unveiled a new brand strategy yesterday that officially marked the company's shift away from pure conference centers and toward full-service hotel and resort properties. At a Manhattan luncheon, Dolce founder, chairman, and managing director Andy Dolce introduced the company's new name, Dolce Hotels & Resorts, along with a new corporate logo, branding, and operational and customer initiatives.

"We felt the people who don't know us didn't come to us because of the 'conference center' tag," said Dolce. "Meetings will still be our sweet spot. This is our opportunity to penetrate the meetings business that go to hotels and resorts."

The 27-old-company has had a history as an IACC conference center supplier, but today its portfolio is made up of 16 hotels and resorts and eight traditional conference properties. Yesterday's announcement is the company's next evolutionary step into the much-larger hotel and resort market.

Dolce's intent to attract more transient and leisure business was clear, however. "We will have full-service properties intended to gain other segments of business besides meetings," said the chief executive. "We're not ignoring the transient segment."

Dolce is now making $100 million in capital improvements to renovate and upgrade properties, such as Dolce Basking Ridge in New Jersey and Dolce Norwalk in Connecticut, to newly formed brand standards. (In fact, those properties already have put up the new corporate logo.)

Those standards include 300-thread-count bed linens, flat-panel, high-definition TVs, and branded bath products in all guest rooms; cybercafes; break areas with connectivity technology; executive concierges and sommeliers at all properties; more spa amenities and guest activities; more restaurants; and upgraded cuisine.

Michelin-star chef Alain Montingy, based at Dolce Chantilly outside Paris, has created an annual chef training program that will raise a la carte dining standards.

The company also announced a 36-point green program.

"In our research, planners told us we didn't have the 'wow' factor," Dolce chief sales and marketing officer Carl Cohen said bluntly. "They told us it was time to step up."