RUSSIA'S richest woman, Yelena Baturina, is splashing out €7m doing up Dublin's Morrison Hotel.
Baturina, who began her career as a factory worker before making her fortune on the Russian construction giant Inteco, bought the Morrison from Nama for around €22m last February. The hotel was owned by businessman Hugh O'Regan before it was transferred to Nama.
Baturina is married to Yury Luzhkov, a Russian politician who was appointed mayor of Moscow by Boris Yeltsin in the early Nineties – a position he held until he was dismissed from the post a couple of years ago.
The architect Nikki O'Donnell, who has worked on the Carton House Hotel in Kildare and the Sheraton hotels in Athlone and Moscow, is re-designing the Morrison's bedrooms and lobby.
The interior of the hotel will be gutted during the multi-million euro refurbishment, and the hotel's 138 rooms and suites completely redesigned. The Morrison will be closed until early February when the revamp is expected to be completed.
Stephen Mulligan, a director of Martinez Hotels & Resorts, which runs the Morrison, believes the time is right to invest more money upgrading the hotel.
"Ireland's hospitality sector has been hit hard by the recession," he said. "However, we feel that Ireland's tourism industry has a lot to offer local and international guests and is certain to rebound. It's for this reason we think the time is right to make a further investment in rejuvenating the Morrison."
As the hotel has installed a camera on its website, customers will be able to watch the progress of the revamp online.
The hotel, which opened its doors in 1999, was originally designed by John Rocha. About €16m was spent redeveloping the hotel in 2003.