Plasma televisions, granite countertops and designer armchairs are no longer trappings of the rich and famous. Fiercely competitive hotel chains are spending millions on high-tech gadgets and luxurious furniture to lure customers in what increasingly resembles an interior-design arms race.

Some hotels, many not very old, are undergoing complete renovations. Others are upgrading in phases, replacing ordinary furnishings with exceptional ones and making costly enhancements to common areas and meeting space.

Regular remodeling is standard practice in the hospitality industry, but modest makeovers have given way to reconstructive surgery that turns rooms into places seemingly fit for kings.

"Consumers are really expecting a lot of amenities from hotels, things like 24-hour service," said Chris Haack, consumer-market analyst with Mintel, an international research firm. "The tricky question is how much money to spend in order to keep old customers and attract new ones."

Travelers' expectations are contributing to the trend. High-speed Internet service, considered a luxury several years ago, is becoming ubiquitous. High-quality bedding and elaborate, free breakfasts are now standard in most midrange to high-end hotels.

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