The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach will reopen
on March 5 after an eight-month renovation and expansion project.
The hotel will feature a more contemporary look and new dining
options, guest amenities and facilities. The effort marks the first
time in the 80-year history of the Ritz-Carlton brand that a member
hotel was completely shut down for renovation and redecoration.
The redo also is
novel for Ritz-Carlton in that the 310-unit property is being
remade to better reflect its Palm Beach location. The hotel is
incorporating local style and modern sensibilities, a departure
from the brandwide uniformity for which Ritz-Carlton is otherwise
known, according to M. Zachary Curry, the hotel's director of sales
"The idea used to
be that every Ritz-Carlton should look and feel the same,
regardless of destination," he said. "But travel trends and the
vision of Ritz-Carlton have changed, so we decided to focus on
guests waking up in the morning having a sense they're in Palm
The $60 million
transformation included replacement of standard Ritz-Carlton hard
and soft furnishings in guest rooms with goods that lend a more
"We designed a
guest-room experience that is more like what you'd expect in your
own home, as opposed to your grandparents' home," said Curry.
"Where our rooms used to be pink and blue with floral motifs, heavy
draperies and crystal and brass, we've now gone with much lighter
fabrics and all-white bedding with beautiful sage and coral throws
at the foot of the beds. The furnishings are all hand-tooled from
Italy and custom-sized to match the style and dimensions of each
Guest rooms have
been modernized to incorporate amenities such as bedside "pamper
panels," particularly in suites.
"The pamper panel
is a bedside panel in all of our rooms that gives guests the
ability to control temperature and lighting," said Curry. "Upgrades
to the panels in our suites include incorporation of MP3 player
plug-ins for our in-room Bose sound systems as well as a touch
screen where you can get additional information on the
access propertywide and improved cell-phone reception is in the
works, with antennas from all major telecommunications companies
flawless cell-phone reception regardless of where on the property a
guest is, whether on the lowest level or out on the beach," said
The layout of the
resort has also been altered. For example, the revamped lobby
now opens onto a 3,000-square-foot terrace with Atlantic Ocean
"We sit on seven
acres of oceanfront, but when guests used to walk in the front
door, they couldn't get to it; there were windows that blocked
access," said Curry. "We literally took the rear of the resort out,
opened it up with glass French doors along the back and created
this amazing veranda with large, roaring firepits for the
the once-rolling resort grounds has been leveled to improve ocean
"We've lifted the
grade of the grounds closer to the resort and lowered the sea wall
slightly to really give guests a better visual of the Atlantic," he
said. "It's giving guests a sense of place and of Palm Beach, as
well as of style and product."
Palm Beach, which has about a 55%-45% leisure-business mix, is also
being reorganized spatially. Groups and business travelers will
usually be steered to the North Tower area, near meetings
facilities. Families will be clustered in central units around the
main pool, playground, kids' clubs and restaurants. Adults without
kids will be directed to the South Tower, near the property's new
second pool, known as the Tranquility Pool, and the new
28,000-square-foot Grand Spa, which will open by year's
Tranquility Pool and Grand Spa, the south side of our property will
be our adult-experience area," said Curry.
accommodations will include the debut of first-floor lanai terrace
units with patios that have been doubled in size and shielded from
general view with new trellises and draperies. The resort's 42
suites, all with ocean views, have been renovated at a cost of
In addition, five
"business cabanas," designed with outdoor and indoor living and
working spaces for business travelers traveling with family, will
debut this summer on the lower level of the North Tower.
introducing an oceanfront 'family suite experience,' which
comprises two one-bedroom suites flagged on each side of a center
bedroom that serves as the nanny room," said Curry. "It has one
common hallway, so guests can close it all off and make it like a
In addition to
bringing the vibe of upscale Palm Beach into the resort, management
wants to attract its well-heeled residents. Three new and/or
revamped dining venues are the lure.
have been either moved or moved and reconceived," said
as serving modern American cuisine, will feature a cool,
contemporary design with chocolate-velvet walls; many mirrors; a
wine wall with more than 825 bottles; and an underlit, white onyx
communal table as a design centerpiece.
Temple Orange, a
casual, all-day restaurant, will offers indoor and outdoor seating
for breakfasts, lunches and Sunday brunches and Italian-inspired
oceanfront dining venue, will offer custom cocktails, frozen drinks
and light snacks. Lobby bar Stir is being positioned as the new
"see-and-be-seen" spot in Palm Beach.
"We're trying to
give the restaurants an independent feel and make them more than
just special-occasion venues," said Charles Shed, director of food
and beverage. "We want to make a place [local] people want to go to
eat at least once a week."
Mix of old and new
For all the
changes on tap in Palm Beach, Ritz-Carlton regulars won't find
themselves completely in foreign territory upon checking in, said
For example, the
lobby still features the trademark large crystal chandelier, but
lighting has been enhanced with silver carriage lights.
And 21 paintings
from the property's existing art gallery have been incorporated
into its new multimillion-dollar oils and sculptures collection,
which was being installed at press time.
elements of traditional Ritz-Carlton blended with elements of the
new, modern Ritz-Carlton," he said. "We embrace a traditional
approach to luxury, but when we talk about guest rooms, that's
where we depart and see our opportunity."
So why the
modernization and change of decorating tack?
ownership [Acorn Asset Management] purchased the hotel for slightly
more than $90 million four years ago, and now they're investing $60
million, a pretty hefty investment in a product," said Curry.
"Travel trends change, and you have a choice of embracing them or
ignoring them and risk becoming irrelevant."
found that the Palm Beach resort, which opened in 1990, was losing
ground to the eight other Ritz-Carlton properties in
"We needed to
become relevant within our brand as well as in the wider luxury
sector," Curry said.
Palm Beach, taking "a look at its youngest guests," said Curry,
also is innovating with new Aquanuts (or Ritz Kids) and Coast (Ritz
Teens) family programs.
employees, 80% of whom are returning when the hotel reopens in
March, have been retrained and outfitted in redesigned
industry trend washing over Ritz-Carlton and competing luxury
accommodations that the Palm Beach property is bucking is the
addition of a residential resort component. That's because the city
imposed a moratorium on new residences measuring under 15,000
square feet per unit.
consideration for the future, but for right now, we're interested
in just staying a luxury hotel property," said Curry. "But
residences are certainly an avenue so many of our Ritz-Carlton
hotel owners want to go. We're closing the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua [on
Maui] to add that residential component."
In other company
news, Ritz-Carlton will relaunch its Web site on Feb.
"It's going to be
the most interactive luxury hotel Web site out there," said
For more on the
Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/resorts/palm_beach.
To contact Destinations editor Kenneth Kiesnoski, send
e-mail to [email protected].