Big downtown San Jose hotel preps new reservations, reopening nears

SAN JOSE — A big downtown San Jose hotel that’s been closed for nearly a year edged closer on Friday to reopening within weeks with the unveiling of a management team and the disclosure it is now taking reservations.

Signia by Hilton, known for decades as the Fairmont San Jose, is now taking reservations for on or after April 25 of this year, the lodging titan said Friday.

“Taking reservations signifies they are opening for business soon,” said Alan Reay, president of Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group, which tracks the California lodging industry. “It doesn’t surprise me that they are about to reopen.”

Setting an April 25 date for booking reservations is an indication that the hotel is slated to officially reopen on or around March 25, according to hotel industry experts who are familiar with the Bay Area market.

Hilton also announced the members of the hotel’s executive team.

Jimmy Sarfraz is the general manager, Catherine Hendricks is the director of sales and marketing, Nicole Kent is the director of revenue management and Hans Lentz is the executive chef.

Sarfraz has more than 15 years in the hospitality business and was recently general manager at the Hilton San Jose and Juniper Hotel Cupertino, which is a Hilton brand.

Hendricks has more than two decades of experience in the Northern California hotel market, including stints at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pleasanton and DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Modesto.

Kent, with a decade of hotel experience, has held revenue management posts with hotels in New York City and Southern California.

Chef Lentz joins Signia by Hilton San Jose as an executive chef with over 20 years of experience in global cuisine in Hawaii, Dubai, East Africa, Chicago, Istanbul and Miami. Most recently, he was the executive chef of Halekulani & Halepuna Hotel, a luxury hotel in Oahu, Hawaii.

The 805-room, two-tower hotel, an iconic landmark in downtown San Jose, filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors in March 2021. But Hilton believes a real rebirth is in the works at the Signia hotel.

“The hotel’s North Tower is undergoing a complete bathroom renovation that will feature marble vanities and showers with residential-style fixtures as well as a separate makeup vanity,” Hilton stated in an email the company sent to this news organization.

The full renovation of all the rooms in both towers is slated to be completed by early 2023.

“This will help elevate the guest experience,” Hilton stated.

The upcoming reopening of the Signia by Hilton in late March could provide a welcome counterpoint to the coronavirus-linked woes in downtown San Jose.

As a result of the bankruptcy, the hotel ownership group, led by Bay Area business executive Sam Hirbod, was able to terminate its management contract with Accor Management US in order to pave the way for Signia Hilton to become the new manager and operator of the hotel.

During the bankruptcy proceeding, the hotel owner and the Accor group reached a settlement that cleared away the primary obstacle to a financial revamp of the hotel.

Signia Hilton has agreed to provide a $15 million payment to bolster the hotel’s assets and facilities. Separately, JPMorgan Chase is providing a $25 million loan to fortify the hotel’s operations.

Separately, lender CLNC Fair San Jose Finance, which is affiliated with BrightSpire Capital, has provided a $185 million loan for the hotel, according to documents filed with the Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office. BrightSpire Capital is the principal lender for the hotel, which is located at 170 S. Market St. in downtown San Jose.

“It is in Hilton’s best interest to get the hotel up and running and open for business as soon as possible,” Reay said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.