Monday, August 3, 2015

The Palace Hotel Reinvented

Today marks the reopening of a San Francisco landmark: the Palace Hotel.  There is no where else in the world that mesmerizes me quite like this place.  I fall in love with its Garden Court every time I step into this breathtaking hotel.  Not only because of its apparent beauty, but considering the grandeur of its history - there is no where else on Earth such as the Palace.

The Palace Hotel was establish in 1875, rebuilt in 1909 (three years after the 1906 earthquake), and now 2015 unveils its new aesthetics.  After a multi-million-dollar renovation that began in April, a revamped fitness center, indoor pool, 556 guest rooms, and last but not least, the iconic Garden Court, have all been redesigned by Beatrice Girelli of Indidesign to usher in a contemporary design.

The Garden Court, also known as the "Palm Court" we know of today, was once called the Grand Court, and have now been renamed as the GC Lounge.  With the renovation comes my greatest dismay: the Garden Court, or shall I say GC Lounge, will not be offered as an event venue any longer!  This means that only the surrounding ballrooms (Ralston Room, Grand Ballroom, and Gold Ballroom), French Parlor, and the Sunset Court are available.  I can't help but to feel that a piece of the Garden Court has been taken away.

This past weekend, I stopped by the Palace to see its status of renovation.  I was lucky enough to be shown the GC Lounge before it was revealed today.  To be honest, the room did not feel the same.  Sure, the stained glass ceiling was intact, the giant Italian marble columns were still surrounding the room with grace, and the Austrian chandeliers still hung in absolute elegance, but what had changed were the flooring, furniture, and setup of the room.  I immediately noticed that the great GC Lounge was partitioned off into two sections by these dark wooden dividers.  The white mirrored garden-style dividers you see below behind the center floral arrangement is gone.  Moreover, all the furniture were dark and the chair backings did not appear to be angled like before to allow guests to comfortably gaze at the entirety of the room while seated.  This is a room of light, yet the colors of the new furnishing do not reflect the essence of the room's permanent styling.  I even dislike calling it the GC Lounge; it degrades the place to sound like many of the late-night social clubs around downtown San Francisco.  "Garden Court" was classic, regal, and a timeless testament to the hotel's rich history.
"There is a moment in every lifetime
when you must open the door
and let the future in."
I will say that the guestrooms benefited the greatest from the renovation.  Although they are now completely modern, the custom details and upgrades definitely makes the rooms worth staying in!  Rooms start at $274 per night in August.

The Garden Court, as I will always remember it
Photo credit: Palace Hotel

The guestroom before. I stayed here once and admit it was a bit dated.
Photo credit: Palace Hotel

The guestroom now exudes modern luxury!
Even the bed cover is embroidered with their logo:
Two phoenix rising - how fitting especially for their renovation!
Photo credit: Palace Hotel

New bathroom fixtures to include lighted mirrors and marble countertops
Photo credit: Palace Hotel

Corridors with new paint, light fixtures, and carpeting
Photo credit: Palace Hotel

Fitness center
Photo credit: Palace Hotel

The 60' × 20' indoor swimming pool
Photo credit: Palace Hotel

A December to Remember: my birthday in 2012,
One of many celebrations I had at the Garden Court

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