Taj Boston (the adjoining red brick buildings at center) overlooking Boston Common, 2011
|Address||15 Arlington Street|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||George B. Post & Son|
|Number of rooms||273|
|Number of suites||44|
Taj Boston is a luxury hotel located in Boston, Massachusetts. The hotel has been in continuous operation since it opened in 1927 as The Ritz Carlton. The property is a Boston landmark and anchors fashionable Newbury Street and the picturesque Boston Public Garden, located in the heart of the Back Bay.
The hotel was for many years part of first one, then a second chain using the Ritz-Carlton name. The Ritz-Carlton Boston was purchased in 2006 by Taj Hotels and renamed Taj Boston on January 11, 2007.
The Wyner Years: 1927-1964
On October 1926, 29-year-old Edward N. Wyner bought a third-acre parcel at the corner of Arlington and Newbury streets and formed a partnership called The Ritz-Arlington Trust with his father, George, and business associate, John S. Slater.
The trust sold $2.1 million of bonds to finance the construction of an apartment building, to be called the Mayflower. The 18-story, 201-foot (61 m) brick building, designed by Strickland, Blodget & Law Architects, was far taller than anything else along Newbury Street at the time. Construction had started on the second floor when Wyner was persuaded by then-Mayor James Michael Curly to make the Mayflower a world-class, 300-room hotel. Wyner received permission from the Hôtel Ritz Paris and the US-based Ritz Carlton Investing Company, founded by Albert Keller, to use the Ritz Carlton name and the Ritz Carlton Boston opened on May 19, 1927. Room rates were $5 to $15 per night; $40 per night for suites.
After a hugely successful opening, the stock market crash of 1929 and ensuing Depression brought financial difficulties. The Wyner family funded the hotel’s operating losses during the early 1930s, although the interest on the bonds went unpaid. Still in 1933, when only 30 guests were registered in the hotel, Wyner turned on the lights in every guest room to give the appearance the hotel was full.
Wyner died of a heart attack on Dec. 5, 1961. His six sons tried to continue operation of the hotel, but it was too difficult, and a decision was made to sell.
The Blakeley Years: 1964-1983
The unpaid interest on the bonds dissuaded many from trying to buy the hotel. But Cabot, Cabot & Forbes principal Gerald F. Blakeley Jr. was interested. After more than a year of legal work, Hale and Dorr succeeded at clearing the bond obligations, and in October 1964 Blakeley and associates Paul Hellmuth and Charles Spaulding acquired the Ritz-Carlton Boston for $3.8 million.
“Out of the 20 years I owned it, it made money three years. The other years it broke even, but from a public relations standpoint for CC&F, it was a tremendous asset,” said Blakeley, who completed a 19-story Ritz-Carlton luxury condominium complex on land adjacent to the hotel in 1981.
In the late 1960s Blakeley obtained the rights to the Ritz-Carlton name in North America (with the exception of Montreal and New York). In June 1978, Blakeley was awarded the rights and privileges of the Ritz-Carlton trademark in the United States and was given a US Service Mark Registration.
The Corporate Years: 1983-1999
In August 1983, W. B. Johnson Properties bought the Ritz-Carlton Boston and the US trademark for $75.5 million and established the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Johnson would expand the company from only the Boston property to 30 hotels worldwide in just 10 years.
He obtained financing to do so from Manufacturers Hanover Trust of New York in 1983 in the amount of $85 million secured by the Ritz-Carlton Boston. This loan was refinanced in 1989 by Manhattan Tops USA of New York for $136.5 million and again in 1994 by Sumitomo Bank of Japan. By 1996, this mortgage was in default and the interest and penalties brought the total debt to $214.8 million.
By splitting this mortgage note into three parts, Sumitomo Bank was able to unbundle the Ritz-Carlton Boston from the trademark rights to the Ritz-Carlton brand worldwide. Blackstone Real Estate Acquisitions of New York bought the Ritz-Carlton Boston at auction for $75 million in February 1998.
A month later, Host Marriott Corp. of Bethesda, Maryland, acquired the hotel from Blackstone for $100 million. Marriott International, which franchises and manages Marriott’s 325,000 rooms, bought the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and rights to the Ritz-Carlton name worldwide from W.B. Johnson for $290 million in a two-part transaction completed in 1998.
In 1998, Christopher Jeffries, founding partner of Millennium Partners, obtained Ritz franchises from Marriott for four hotel properties under construction: two in Washington, one in New York City, and one in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, Jeffries was searching for a brand affiliation for the new 155-room hotel and 270-luxury condominiums he was constructing as part of Boston’s 1,800,000-square-foot (170,000 m2) Millennium Place, a mixed-use complex on lower Washington Street. Because of noncompetition clauses, the only way he could obtain a second Ritz-Carlton flag in Boston was to own the existing Ritz-Carlton.
Millennium Partners acquired the original Ritz-Carlton Boston for $122 million (though it had sold for just $75 million less than two years prior) and spent $50 million for renovations. Marriott agreed to allow the Ritz-Carlton affiliation for the condominium complex, known as The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, and sharing all of the services of the hotel.
In 1999, when Millennium Partners of New York, the new owners of the original Ritz-Carlton Boston, announced that the company was building a second Ritz-Carlton in Boston (today's 193-room Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common), there was much local disapproval. A member of the old guard summed up: “The movement of a name from one place to another doesn’t do it. There would never be that special atmosphere; a grace, decency, and ambiance that once existed.” Millennium Partners admitted they had no intentions of trying to duplicate the Ritz.
The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common Hotel opened in 2001 and from then until 2007 Boston was home to two Ritz-Carlton hotels that faced each other on Boston Common.
In October 2002, The Ritz-Carlton Boston celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a major restoration to bring the facility 21st century amenities while maintaining its 20th century decor.
In November 2006, The Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, a subsidiary of the India-based Tata Group, purchased The Ritz-Carlton Boston from Millennium Partners for $170 Million. The Ritz-Carlton name was not sold to Taj Hotels and The Ritz-Carlton Boston was renamed Taj Boston on January 11, 2007.
- Lienert, Dan (6 October 2004). "Boston Bliss". Forbes.com. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
- "Taj buys Ritz-Carlton in Boston for $170 m - Economic Times". Articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "Taj acquires Ritz-Carlton Boston". Air & Business Travel News. Panacea Publishing. 13 November 2006. Retrieved 4 April 2010.[dead link]