During the 18 months in which this ailing hulk of a hotel will be closed, its rooms and business facilities will be considerably upgraded and fire safety systems installed. All being well it will reopen in time for the start of the 2003 tourist season.
Built in 1984, the 22-story building was put up for privatization in 1993. But it took five years and successive price reductions for a buyer to emerge, in the form of Norway's Linstow International, which in 1998 bought the hotel for $10.2 million with a view to overhauling it.
Work is now about to begin.
According to Astri Vrmo Andrasan, head of Linstow International's properties department, the hotel will become a three star international standard hotel. "It will be like a new building, with new vertical and horizontal cabling, a sprinkler system, new windows, almost everything new apart from the frame of the building," said Andrasan.
Linstow International's total investment is expected to be between $12 million and $17 million.
The Swedish group FFNS Architects has been appointed to oversee the operation, although the hotel's original Lithuanian architects, twin brothers Algimantas and Vytautas Nasvytis, will also be brought in.
Rather than building a fitness center of the type now found in most quality hotels the Lietuva will have "a small relaxation center measuring between 60 and 80 square meters," said Andrasan. The possibility of installing saunas and Jacuzzis on the 21st floor has been rejected, she said, though "there may be one sauna."
The hotel's main entrance will be moved from Ukmerges Street to the pedestrian mall overlooking the River Neris. "We wanted to open it to the city," Andrasan explained.
When it reopens the Lietuva will have 275 rooms and several conference halls, the largest holding 500 delegates.
After the renovations, the Lietuva will be able to compete with top Vilnius hotels such as the Radisson SAS Astorija, the soon to be built Holiday Inn and the Scandic Hotel Neringa, said Andrasan.
While the Radisson SAS Astorija is Vilnius' most popular hotel, some rank the Stikliai, behind whose historic walls royalty and other celebrities have rested, as the poshest of all.
Linstow Warner completed the successful renovation of the Lietuva's twin brother, the Reval Hotel Latvija this summer, investing more than $25 million.