The Watergate Hotel
Arguably the most historically significant hotel of the 20th century, The Watergate Hotel, is now enjoying a 21st century renaissance following a $200 million renovation.
Situated on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington D.C., the new hotel boasts 336 stylish guestrooms, a spa, 11 flexible indoor and outdoor meeting spaces and a grand ballroom, as well as a dual-concept restaurant, Kingbird and The Backroom at Kingbird, The Next Whisky Bar and Top of the Gate rooftop lounge.
With a bold mid-century modern design that blends classic elegance with the extravagance and warmth of a true luxury lifestyle hotel, The Watergate Hotel is perfect for leisure and business travellers alike.
At the centre of the scandal that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon in 1974, The Watergate Hotel was originally designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti in 1961. However, after a redecoration in the 1980s, the hotel lost the luxurious feel that had always made it stand out.
To help design the public spaces for the new reincarnation, owners Euro Capital Properties turned to Ron Arad Architects. Asa Bruno, Director at the firm, spoke to Premier Hospitality about the project:
“We had a fair amount of creative freedom. This was only the third hotel for the clients so they don’t renovate a lot of them but when they do, they do it very carefully. They care about the quality that is being put in, it’s not about a quick return but rather investing in an established building that will have a long life and attract the right clientele.
“We were allowed to design every aspect of the public spaces, from the chairs to the rugs to the lights. We enjoyed this but at the same time it’s quite a challenge, in the sense that this creative freedom can be quite daunting. There was a lot to be inspired by and consider, from the views of the river to the restrictions of the building.
“The approach we took was instead of simply decking out every surface with new materials, we tried to create a better flow through the space. We didn’t want to use too many materials but rather restrict the palette to a select few.”
That select few was narrowed down to four – warm metals (bronze, copper, brass), polished stainless steel, oak and stone. In total the public spaces took three and a half years to complete with 18 months spent on the design and two years spent on the actual construction.
Commenting on the some of the most eye catching design aspects of the public spaces, Asa added:
“When you walk in you immediately notice linear strips made out of metal tubes. The columns, reception wall and reception counter are all clad with tubes of metal. Everything is done in these linear, horizontal curving strips so when you walk in your eye s drawn to them and you are drawn further and further into the hotel.
“The [Next] Whisky Bar is probably the most prominent feature of the design. The old whisky bar in the early days of The Watergate was alleged to be a place where judges, senators and congressman would meet. The clients wanted us to create a similarly special and intimate space.
“One thing we did was craft the whole whisky bar out of whisky bottles rather than use solid walls. We have 2,500 empty bottles all under lit creating an amber glow, the only source of lighting in the space.”
The bar has an expansive spirit list of whisky, bourbon and rye from small batch producers and large distillers. The adjoining restaurant, Kingbird, features a menu of American cuisine with a French twist overseen by Executive Chef Michael Santoro. Meanwhile, the hotel’s first-ever rooftop lounge, Top of the Gate, offers some of the best views in the city overlooking the Potomac River, Capitol building and Washington Monument.
Realize SRL is an engineering specialist, working on sophisticated and complex projects within the hospitality and leisure industries. Most recently, Realize SRL were involved with The Watergate Hotel, producing metal furniture for the lobby, restaurant and bar areas.
Products included a 30 meter long reception wall; a large bar counter; 25 meters of polished curved steel walls; a brass & steel shaped restaurant counter; an elliptical staircase with parapets in polished and etched copper; high bronzed chandeliers; and pillars complete with polished stainless steel spirals. All of the products were engineered with the finest details, before being constructed, shipped and installed at the hotel by Realize SRL’s technicians.
Concluding on the significance of the project, Asa said:
“The design has been very well received. The client didn’t want us to do anything too radical given the location and history of the building. We think what we’ve done is complimentary of the original architect Moretti, the city and is a bit more timeless.”
The Watergate Hotel is located near some of Washington’s most popular destinations including The White House and National Mall. For more information please visit www.thewatergatehotel.com.
Today the Baumstark woodwork manufacturers and cabinet makers are the specialists for high quality fit out and joinery works for any kind of international projects – regardless whether it is a commercial, residential or hospitality scheme. The company offers a professional project management service, which works in close collaboration with architects and all other craftsmen involved in the construction process.
More than 12 years ago, the members of Baumstark decided to work together under the umbrella of the brand name Baumstark, bringing together a long tradition of craftsmanship, in some cases lasting more than 100 years. The comprehensive knowledge of Baumstark’s highly skilled employees, combined with modern machinery, guarantee their global clients receive the best quality advice, design and installation.
Past projects for Baumstark have included, Trump Tower Penthouse in Baku, National Gymnastics Arena in Baku and a private hospital in Reading, as well as residential schemes in Warsaw, Ibiza, Las Vegas, the South of France, London and Sotchi. Most recently, Baumstark has been involved in The Watergate Hotel in Washington DC.
Working on The Watergate Hotel, Baumstark provided timber panelling to the hotel’s lobby and restaurant areas, as well as for the ballroom and pre-function area of the hotel.
Josef Schafleitner of Baumstark Business Development, said:
“It was great to work together with the team of Ron Arad Associates and to be part of the fit out team for the prestigious project.”
“At Baumstark, we deliver outstanding quality craftsmanship for international projects within agreed timeframes and budgets.”