Renovation Seamlessly Blends Hotel History with Contemporary Design for a Timeless Future
SAN ANTONIO (2016) – San Antonio’s first luxury hotel opened in 1909 with glamour and luxury that made everyone green with envy. When that same hotel, The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio, celebrates its grand re-opening, it will make everyone see green again, though this time it will be “St. Anthony Green” as guests enjoy the hotel’s striking redesign featuring a signature green custom-designed for the hotel by legendary interior designer Dorothy Draper.
Relying on the iconic hotel’s history to guide the redesign, the hotel has been meticulously restored to its original grandeur. The new look is timeless: historically modern, with a thoughtful and respectful nod to the magnificent history behind the hotel known as “the Waldorf on the Prairie,” as it was considered the equal of New York City’s global luxury destination, The Waldorf-Astoria.The experience of walking through the hotel’s glamorous public space, taking in the historic architecture as it playfully contrasts with modern furnishings, historic artwork and The St. Anthony’s own collection of antiques will exceed even the most discerning travelers’ expectations.
The redesign of the St. Anthony restores the National Historic Landmark’s famed glamour and opulence, polishing the gem that has hosted generations of San Antonio’s social elite alongside Hollywood stars, famed politicians and international royalty since its opening. Ther enovation has reclaimed the hotel’s glamorous past, including unearthing original tile floors in The St. Anthony Club and returning the stairs off of the lobby, as well as the registration desk, to their original locations. Through the renovation, areas of the hotel that have not been seen in more than 50 years once again shine, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy the hotel as it was originally designed.
Reviving a Timeless Treasure The namesake of both the city of San Antonio and the hotel is St. Anthony of Padua, known as the patron saint of the recovery of lost things, fitting for the rebirth of this iconic piece of San Antonio history. The hotel had been renovated numerous times since it opened in 1909, leaving something of a “Frankenstein” design and flow: changes on top of changes had closed-off spaces, covered unique architectural elements and obstructed the flow of the hotel, making the public spaces feel disjointed and robbing the hotel of its elegance.
The owners were determined to alleviate that, once again making the space sympathetic to and respectful of the hotel’s original architectural elements. They spent almost a year studying the hotel, planning much-needed upgrades to the hotel’s electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, but also looking for the right way to return the hotel’s storied grandeur. While the owners were working with San Antonio’s Overland Partners to finalize the renovation plans, the team came across the original architectural designs—and discovered that the new designs mirrored the original plans.
Design firm Forrest Perkins, known for its work with an impressive list of luxury hotels and resorts and its keen sense of place and style, helped bring the hotel’s interior back to life. Working with the hotel’s owners, great consideration was given to recreating the spaces that have been important to the hotel’s history and architectural details have been respected, revitalized and restored. As part of bringing The St. Anthony back to what it once was, many of the burl wood and ormolu sofas, chairs and tables which graced the lobby and the famed Peacock Alley have been restored and are featured in the hotel today, alongside artworks acquired for the hotel in the 1930s and 40s. And everything shines brighter thanks to finely wrought chandeliers and torchières that have been restored, and in some cases, updated, to complement the hotel’s glamorous and stylish design.
Vibrant color plays a starring role in the transformation of the hotel’s interior,capturing San Antonio’s colorful atmosphere while remaining true to the hotel’s iconic, timeless architecture. The signature color for The St. Anthony was selected from a magnificent set of custom-designed china, created for the hotel by designer Dorothy Draper in 1959. Rimmed in a striking parrot green, the china was featured seasonally in The St. Anthony Club. That green, now referred to as “St. Anthony Green” is featured throughout the hotel, serving as the defining color in the design scheme of each public area, as well as the guest rooms and suites.
As beautiful as guest rooms and suites are, perhaps the most stunning portions of the renovation are the public spaces. The lobby has been entirely transformed, with the registration desk relocated back to its original location. Peeling back the layers of previous renovations converted the lobby area back to its originally intended use and thoughtful, painstaking restoration returned architectural elements to their rightful place. The hotel’s front entrance and valet area have been relocated as well, bringing the space’s natural flow back to life. By reclaiming the exterior Loggia on Travis Street, The St. Anthony entry returns to its origin as the prominent hotel drop off that it once was.
The newly restored Loggia is the perfect respite for a guest to relax and enjoy a sunlit day, afternoon tea and the view of The St. Anthony’s front yard, the beautifully transformed Travis Park. The furniture and fabrics in the Loggiaharken back to the sun room of the 1930s popular in many luxurious residences, while historic pendants and sconces remain in the space.
The lobby itself is dazzling. Guests are greeted by soaring ceilings and beautifully sculpted columns, complemented by the original Calcutta marble floor and a grand staircase. Discreetly set apart from the comings and goings yet easily seen from the entry, the new registration desk welcomes guests in a cozy and friendly manner. A distinctive feature of the registration area—and sure to be a conversation piece—is the hand crafted, undulating curved reception desk covered with belting leather and topped with stamped leather panels. The work was done by a native Texan Artisan who continues to practice the craft using traditional turn of the century methods.
The rooftop pool and pool deck, a fixture added to the sixth floor during an earlier renovation, has been completed renovated to be a luxurious escape overlooking San Antonio. Another rooftop fixture, the tenth floor St. A Sky Terrace, has been reclaimed: what had become a gravel pit once again features 1940s-era tile work, as well as a stunning, panoramic view of San Antonio. And the tenth floor itself was completely renovated, recreating guest room and meeting space from what had become a storage area.
A new public area to enjoy is the Library, located on the hotel’s mezzanine. An earlier renovation turned the space into hotel offices but the current restoration reclaims the space to feature a softly lit mill work wall and rift cut oak floors, rich wall paneling and touches of gold to define this intimate space that invites guests to sit, relax and get lost for a while. The adjoining Navarro Terrace, once hidden behind storefront, tinted glass, beckons guests to admire the view and enjoy the breeze as guests once did long ago.
Adjacent to the library is the hotel’s sculpture garden, displaying anassemblage that was primarily curated by the second owner of the hotel, Ralph W. Morrison. An avid traveler and passionate collector of French Empire antiques, bronze and marble sculpture, museum quality glass and original oil paintings, Morrison decorated the hotel with an array of artwork in the 1930s and ‘40s. Many of the pieces are on display throughout the hotel, including “Monarch of the West”, a glorious 7-foot-tall painting by Irish artist James F. McCan. Morrison paid$40,000 for the piece, which had been on display at San Antonio’s Municipal Auditorium, and placed it in the hotel’s lobby. He was invited to put it in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., but chose to keep it at The St. Anthony. The sculpture garden includes many pieces from the rest of Morrison’s collection.
Not to be forgotten, the true jewel of the hotel, Peacock Alley, is fully restored as well, greeting visitors with all of its storied finery—including the beloved Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano ensconced in Peacock Alley by owner Ralph W. Morrison after he purchased the hotel in 1935.
The Russian government ordered the custom-made grand piano from Steinway New York in 1924 for the Russian Embassy in Paris. Decorated with a rosewood case with tulip wood inlay, marquetry inlay and gilt bronze mounts, the piano features ormolu medallions as well. Eventually, the Russians moved the piano to their Washington, D.C., embassy. From there, it was sold in the late 1930s to Ralph Morrison, who was traveling the world collecting art pieces to display in the hotel—now visible in the sculpture garden. For decades, the piano and a procession of renowned pianists drew San Antonians and guests alike to the lobby for quiet, sophisticated weekday afternoon performances by a quartet of piano, string bass and violins. However, the cherished music stopped when the piano was “spirited away” in 1993 to the California home of the owner and chairman of Park Lane Hotels, then The St. Anthony’s owner.
In 2013, the Steinway was offered through a worldwide fine arts auction house and was acquired by the hotel’s owners. After extensive repairs, the stately piano once again presides over Peacock Alley. Guests will find Peacock Alley, the gracious ballrooms and special rooms such as the Library and The St. Anthony Club places to show off their finery or retreat to a quiet corner to watch the parade of festively dressed partygoers while enjoying a cocktail.
The Flourish of Fiesta Festive, colorful celebrations are no stranger to the hotel and The St. Anthony’s guest areas pay homage to the Battle of the Flowers parade, the event that sparked the fantastic San Antonio celebration known as Fiesta. From the earliest days, The St. Anthony played a serious role in Fiesta, serving as host to a reception for the queen and her court following their traditional coronation ceremony. The hotel also hosted “The Cavalier Room” and the yearly coronation ball of King Antonio. Both of these activities are returning to the hotel, making Fiesta’s influence on the hotel’s design all the more fitting.
Guest corridors are decorated with collections of historic black and white photographs: images of San Antonio’s beloved Fiesta, military pictures, musical photos and Fiesta dress sketches, artwork that showcases the starring role The St. Anthony has had in San Antonio’s colorful history and celebrations.The custom carpet design is a stylized and oversized floral pattern in grey scale tones, referencing the Battle of the Flowers in a modern manner. New decorative lighting brings the glamour of the public areas into the guest floors, combining gold metal finishes with glowing silk and etched glass shades which cast classical patterns for ceiling adornment.
The color of Fiesta flows throughout the hotel as the signature colors of “St. Anthony Green”and lapis blue that prominently appear in the public areas are also featured in the suites and rooms as more subtle accents within a restful palate of warm greys, light neutrals and shimmering metals.Each room and suite features a sense of arrival, a feeling of entering a place that is thoughtfully conceived and artfully arranged as if for that one particular treasured guest.
The suite and room designs place great emphasis on comfort and modern style in rooms that are light-filled and spacious. True to its history of additions—the hotel was built in 1909 with 220 rooms, was expanded in 1910, then grew again in 1936, as well as in 1941, and at one time featured 430 rooms—The St. Anthony’s many and varied guest room configurations allow guests to experience the hotel anew on each visit. The renovated hotel now features 277 fully-remodeled guest rooms and suites, including the lavish Presidential Suite and the John Wayne Suite, named for the actor who frequently stayed at the hotel and celebrated the premiere of 1960’s “The Alamo” during a private party at The St. Anthony.
The guest rooms themselves speak to the series of firsts for which The St. Anthony has been known from its opening day: en suite bathrooms, illuminated closets, room lights activated by the door locks –these now ubiquitous features set the hotel apart at the time. In keeping of the hotel’s story of reviving a timeless and visionary treasure, the new room design focuses on a decidedly modern application of patterns, materials, technology, fixtures and fittings to create guest accommodations that are at once referential of the hotel’s famous firsts yet are forward thinking, modern and timeless for the 21st century.
Historic crystal light fixtures have been restored with crystal accents to dress the guest room and suites entries.Technology highlights such as charging stations, lighted mirrors, integrated minibars and lighted closets givethe guestrooms and suites the quiet luxury of modern amenities and are subtly blended into the design so the room aesthetic remains fluid.Collected artwork and artifacts are also dispersed throughout the hotel, piquing guests’ curiosity and flavoring the hotel with its own rich history.
Be aPart of History Celebrating its debut as a Luxury Collection hotel, becoming part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., The St. Anthony is embarking on the next phase of its deep-seated role in San Antonio. Delivering unparalleled luxury and personalized service to its guests, The St. Anthony is now part of The Luxury Collection’s portfolio of 17 diverse hotels in North America, ranging from the iconic Palace Hotel in San Francisco to the modern, art-deco Chatwal hotel in New York. Each Luxury Collection hotel and resort is a unique and cherished expression of its location—a portal to the destination’s indigenous charms and treasures.
As part of its grand re-opening celebration, The St. Anthonyis offering a special history package that gives a glimpse into the historic landmark’s extraordinary story. Guests who reserve the grand opening offer will receive a copy of “Dusting Off A Legend: The St. Anthony Hotel”, as well as a concierge-led history tour of the property that will explain details of the artwork and antiques that grace the hotel, as well the stories behind the legendary St. Anthony Club, Anacacho Room and the celebrities who have enjoyed The St. Anthony’s legendary hospitality. The package also features Double Starpoints®per stay for Starwood Preferred Guest members and two signature cocktails at The St. Anthony Club to toast the rebirth of the “Queen of San Antonio”. The offer is valid for stays through December 31, 2015, and may be bookedonline or by calling866-716-8166 and askingfor rate plan LAPKG1.
About The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio A Texas jewel reborn, crafted from the dreams of two Texas cattlemen in 1909, The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, was the first luxury hotel in San Antonio and has remained one of the finest expressions of Texas hospitality for more than a century. Featuring 277 guest rooms and suites, as well as more than 31,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space in the heart of downtown San Antonio, The St. Anthony is an unrivaled classic reborn with contemporary glamour and opulence. The hotel’s timeless elegance and tradition, fused with stunning city views and modern design, serve as the epicenter of San Antonio’s social scene, including its sixth-floor outdoor pool and tenth-floor rooftop lounge, as well as the storied St. Anthony Club, a cocktail lounge with historic tales to share, Rebelle, San Antonio’s newest culinary destination, and Haunt, a bar offering classic cocktails inspired by the haunting legends of The St. Anthony. For reservations or for more information, contact 210-227-4392 or visit www.thestanthonyhotel.com. #TheStAnthony, #TexasJewelReborn
About The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts The Luxury Collection®brand is comprised of world-renowned hotels and resorts offering unique, authentic experiences that evoke lasting, treasured memories. For the global explorer, The Luxury Collection offers a gateway to the world’s most exciting and desirable destinations. Each hotel and resort is a unique and cherished expression of its location; a portal to the destination’s indigenous charms and treasures. Magnificent decor, spectacular settings, impeccable service and the latest modern conveniences combine to provide auniquely enriching experience. Originated in 1906 under the CIGA®brand as a collection of Europe’s most celebrated and iconic properties, today The Luxury Collection brand is a glittering ensemble of nearly 100 of the world’s finest hotels and resorts inmore than 30 countries in bustling cities and spectacular destinations around the world. The Luxury Collection includes award-winning properties that continuously exceed guest expectations by offering unparalleled service, style and class while celebrating each hotel’s distinctive heritage and unique character. All of these hotels, many of them centuries old, are internationally recognized as being among the world’s finest. For more information, please visit www.luxurycollection.com. #theluxurycollection