Imagine you’re vacationing in Hawaii, surrounded by coconut palms, sparkling clear water and white sand beaches. When you return to your luxury hotel for the night, you want that feeling of island intoxication to continue. You don’t want stuffy hotel suites dripping with crystal chandeliers and white roses à la “Downton Abbey.” You want dark woods and vibrant hibiscus-hued décor…so you feel like you’re not just visiting Hawaii, but experiencing Hawaii.
That authentic travel experience is exactly what The Ritz-Carlton has been delivering for the last decade under a new design philosophy, which it calls “consistently inconsistent.” The boutique approach means that the luxury hotel chain looks to local interior design firms to bring the authentic nature and sense of place to each of their properties, which now number in the 80s worldwide. Explains Bill Barrie, the company’s senior vice president of design and project management: “The idea is to deliver a hotel experience that is more appropriate to its location.”
Recently speaking to Barrie for Homes & Estates magazine, Coldwell Banker Previews International® asked him to take us on a tour of the company’s most memorable “sense of place” properties for our Previews® Inside Out readers. Which locale most inspires your luxury wanderlust? Tell us in the comments below.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
Designed by Palo Alto-based Hill Glazier Architects, Palo Alto, California with interiors by San Francisco-based Brayton & Hughes Design Studio
Barrie considers The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay to be the first “sense of place” property, though it debuted in 2001—years before the company embarked on its brand-wide initiative. Featuring an exterior façade of natural cedar shingles, the design evokes memories of the grand seaside lodges of the 19th century with its signature Shingle Style architecture creating a regional “sense of place.” Epitomizing the relaxed elegance and high-tech features of the new generation of Ritz-Carlton properties, the resort’s interior includes hardwood floors, large stone fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows highlighting the spectacular ocean vistas.
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in Arizona
Designed by HKS Hill Glazier Studios, Wilson and Associates and EDG Interior Architecture
Incorporating desert stone and metal, the hotel’s design is “in harmony with its atmospheric and secluded surroundings,” according to Barrie. Interior carpets represent Arizona sunrises and sunsets, each bordered by the area’s majestic saguaro cactus. The strikingly beautiful saguaro grows nowhere else in the world, and the main building of the resort was actually relocated early in the construction process, in order to preserve two decades-old saguaro cacti, which were growing near the foundation.
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
Designed by Wilson and Associates and renovated by Bilkey Llinas
Large rustic pine beams, intricate stonework, detailed millwork, sophisticated furnishings, contemporary paintings and a welcoming grand fireplace are all elements that give The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Colorado’s Beaver Creek resort a rustic chic feel. The interiors of the 180-room, 40-suite AAA Five-Diamond hotel are intended to connect with the rugged, ski-in, ski-out location. Said Barrie: “It’s a mountain ski lodge on steroids.”
The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow
Designed by Peter Silling with exteriors designed by Mosproekt
“Czar chic” is one way Barrie and his team describe the style of Tverskaya 3, the exclusive address of The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow located adjacent to Red Square with views overlooking the Kremlin. With interiors designed by Peter Silling, the 11-story, 334-room hotel fuses the rich decadence of Imperial Russia with contemporary accouterments. From an elegant lobby in marble and gold to suites featuringpolished, dark Cherry and Burl wood décor, the decor honors Moscow’s artistic and cultural past as much as it embraces a vibrant, new-age present.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
Designed by LTW, Spin Design Studio and Wonderwall
The stylish and contemporary interiors of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong set the stage for a 312-room hotel that takes guests to soaring heights above the city with views of Victoria Harbor and the iconic island’s skyline. Guests are greeted on the 9th floor, then whisked up to the hotel lobby on the 103rd floor where panoramic views await them. Unique features include a “Chocolate Library,” a pool with an adjacent 23 x 92-foot LED screen, a bar with crystal fire pits, and hip outdoor terrace lounge—also the world’s highest—on the 118th floor. “It’s an urban experience unlike no other,” said Barrie. Meanwhile, the lush rooms offer modern interpretations of traditional Chinese accents and art—but remain tastefully within the international style.
Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Thailand
Designed by Lek Bunnag of Thailand
Nestled on the shore of Thailand’s Andaman Sea, Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a hidden and serene retreat with only 54 spacious one-bedroom pavilions and villas, each with 24–hour dedicated butler service. The resort’s modern styling and architecture artfully mixes local woods, art and indoor/outdoor elements—all a tribute to Thai culture and tradition. Renowned architect Lek Bunnag also respected the ocean views and lush rainforest surroundings by keeping the property’s height low. “You look out onto the bay, and you’ll see these limestone mountains rising from the sea,” said Barrie. “It’s like out of a James Bond movie.”
Sharq Village, Doha in Qatar
Designed by Qatar-based Ibrahim Al-Jaidah and Rula Habamala with interiors by DiLeonardo (resort) and P 49 (spa).
Sharq Village & Spa, Doha in Qatar celebrates the rich cultural legacy of Qatari history by offering architecture, designs and experiences of a generations-old Qatari community. The oceanfront resort tells Arabian tales of the merchants, pearl divers and captains that hauled their heavy boats ashore to infuse this Middle Eastern land with prosperity. Like the communities of the past, Sharq Village & Spa springs organically from the center of the busy ancient bazaar and begins a gentle evolution of courtyard houses, crooked alleyways, cooling pools, elegant palaces and thriving fish market down to the palm-fringed coastline. Added Barrie: “The design incorporates lots of indigenous materials, rough-cut ceilings and mosaics to give it a local Arabic feel.”