Thursday, June 25, 2009

Meet Me at "The Clock"

Everyone in New York City has at one time or another met someone at "the clock" in Grand Central Station. Now when in San Francisco, you can meet at "the clock," in the lobby of the Westin St. Francis, the "Grand Dame" of Union Square, thanks to a $40 million transformation of the historic hotel, which opened in 1904.

The famous Great Magneta Clock, which originally made its debut in the hotel lobby in 1907, has been restored to its rightful position as focal point of the lobby which now boasts a look that is at once historic and new.

Soothing shades of chocolate brown and cream permeate the space, complemented by reproductions of the lobby’s four original beaded globe chandeliers. Plush hexagonal-patterned carpeting reflects the intricacies of the original wood-carved ceiling. Just off of the Main Lobby, the 1906 grand staircase has been restored to showcase the original pink marble stairs.

The Main Lobby also features award-winning chef Michael Mina’s first-ever cocktail lounge, aptly named the Clock Bar. Designed by Rockwell Group, the 1,260 square feet, 55-seat Clock Bar features a warm, elegant environment with a dark palette and luxurious materials including rosewood walls, black burned wood floors, and rich leather banquettes and lounge chairs in blue and chocolate brown. The central focus of the space is two columns clad entirely in hand blown champagne and amber colored glass with ticker clocks showing the time in cities around the world. Complementing the traditional aesthetic of the adjacent Main Lobby, the bar is adorned with a reproduction of the original ceiling molding.

History aficionados will take delight in the fact the history of The Westin St. Francis is now being showcased in six brand new museum-quality display cases designed by Bill White, curator for San Francisco’s de Young Museum. On display for public viewing in the Tower Lobby, each chronological case is filled with historic treasures such as photos, menus, china, guest ledgers, and much more.

Approximately $12 million was invested in the transformation of the 614 guestrooms and common areas in the Main Building. Led by San Francisco-based Kevin Joyce Design, guestrooms bridge the world between the old and new with a fresh sophistication complementing the classically beautiful 1906 architecture. Subtle textures and a neutral color palette of ecru, bronze and dark brown tones blend with the traditional curved high ceilings, ornate moldings and crystal chandeliers. Guestrooms boast custom-designed classic dark wood furniture topped with gold and silver granite, luxurious bronze-patterned carpeting, light-colored wall coverings with a unique “hammered” appearance, velvety chaise lounges, contemporary abstract artwork, signature Westin Heavenly Beds™, 37” flat screen televisions and ergonomic desk chairs. Hallways and common areas have been refreshed with a fusion of present-day and classic San Francisco - contemporary furniture and plush carpeting are juxtaposed with time-honored black and white historical photography of the hotel and San Francisco.

So, say chocolate martinis at 3 then an early dinner?--Ruth Mitchell

(c) 2009 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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