Viceroy L’Ermitage, Beverly Hills, USA
An iconic property has been given a timeless elegance to attract the sophisticated 21st-century traveller while remaining true to its essence. Can Faik speaks with Smith-Firestone Associates (SFA Design) about the new look……
Peacefully situated on a tree-lined residential street, yet a short stroll from the bustle of Rodeo Drive, Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is renowned for its understated elegance and unquestioned privacy – drawing discriminating clients from the world over. Guests enjoy quick access to the city’s cultural attractions, prime entertainment centers, shopping destinations and celebrated beach towns. Acclaimed dining and lounge choices, private dining and meeting spaces, a stunning rooftop pool retreat, an intimate spa, and spacious, modern guestrooms create the ultimate sanctuary and home away from home.
SFA design offers the perfect reimagination of the iconic Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, a residential hideaway known for its understated elegance and utmost discretion. The hotel and its inhabitants function more like a luxury apartment (with doormen to boot) than a traditional luxury boutique hotel.
The property is an icon in its own right – its occupants have included some of the most captivating celebrities and Hollywood magnates imaginable.
Warm smiles make guests feel at home in this sanctuary where the hotel offers individually tailored experiences and the ultimate comforts of a home away from home.
Timeless elegance complements spacious interiors as well as intimate and private spaces that cater to an exclusive international clientele. SFA Design layers textures and offers a bold, elegant design that redefines the standard for modern luxury. Guests are enveloped in the exquisite ambiance of Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills’ new lobby, which is designed to reflect the hotel’s glamorous clientele. The newly designed entrance is enclosed in architectural paneled walls comprised of antique mirror, white bronze metal, translucent white gold glass and opaque white gold glass. Boldly patterned floor coverings lead the eye through the sweeping space while the reflective metallic ceiling illuminates guests’ surroundings. The glass topped front desk is created from combination of charcoal grey shagreen leather, and accents of polished chrome, copper and brass.
Suite design includes lavish Venetian cut-glass mirrors, floor-to-ceiling suede and velvet headboards, white onyx and gray marble, eclectic art, celebrity-ready dressing rooms complete with a walk-in closet and a selection of mirrors featuring indoor/outdoor/evening lighting settings.
President and Partner at Smith-Firestone Associates, Kara Smith, speaks to Can Faik about her concept that matched the owner’s design goals for the Viceroy L’Ermitage…
What is your role at Smith-Firestone (SFA Design)?
As president and partner of Smith-Firestone Associates, I am intimately involved with SFA’s projects on a day to day basis, but also use my experience with entrepreneurship to expand our firm’s portfolio of luxury resorts, boutique hotels, clubs, spas, primary estates and vacation homes. I’m also responsible for client interface, and making sure that the client and projects’ design objectives are achieved by SFA’s design staff. This includes daily interaction with senior project principals, design review, coordination over the design team, and design development.
Tell me about your role at Viceroy L’Ermitage, – what was it like working on the hotel?
Through the design and renovation process, we developed a collaborative and inspiring work relationship with the owners of the hotel, and the Viceroy brand. As Principal on the project, I worked with the client to develop a concept that matched their design goals for the property, and managed the design team to ensure that it was executed in a timely and organised manner, adhered to budget specifications, and reflected the clients’ aesthetic successfully. We worked together to combine colours, textures and curated artwork to deliver a luxury experience with a twist toward modernity.
Why do you think your company was awarded the project?
This was a highly sought-after project and the top talent in the country and beyond were considered. Our firm went through many rounds of interviews and presentations until being selected as the interior designer. I think in the end, it was more than our experience with this level of luxury hotel renovations, but also our ability to really understand the unique goals of this project and to inspire confidence that our team would be an ideal partner to see this project through to completion.
What was the inspiration behind the design concept of Viceroy L’Ermitage?
The intention was to create a sophisticated and timeless design that still felt fresh and iconic. We wanted to pay homage to both the status and the history of the L’Ermitage itself, as well as reflect the upscale luxury of the Viceroy brand that global travellers have come to expect. The design concept seamlessly blends old-Hollywood glamour with contemporary Californian space and light, and modern luxury materials and finishes.
How long did it take to bring this project from concept to completion?
The entire process from concept to completion took about 2.5 years.
How many people did you work with on the design project?
SFA allocated a relatively large team to this project because we handled all aspects of the renovation. In total, we had a principal, one senior designer for the hotel, one senior designer for the restaurant, two architects and two project managers/junior designers.
What was the highlight of the project for you?
An aspect of the project that really stands out is our design of the presidential suite. It’s ultra-luxury at its finest, and really speaks to the upscale clientele that the property attracts. The suite offers 3,200 square feet of living space, with five French door balconies, a screening room with chaise lounges, a sophisticated study with a fireplace and chess table, full kitchen, formal 12-seat dining room, and a private spa — all accentuated by unique accents, crystal light fixtures, custom furniture, eclectic art, and the finest finishes and linens.
Were there any particular challenges? If so, what were they?
For this project, we also redesigned the public spaces, including the hotel’s restaurant, Avec Nous. One of the main challenges that we encountered were low ceilings throughout the ground floor. The challenge was to make these areas still feel light and spacious so we had to come up with creative, yet chic solutions for lighting. Furthermore, since the restaurant is the only dining area in the hotel, it was also an initial challenge to develop a design concept that would allow the space to serve several different functions – a high end brunch and breakfast, a power business lunch, and also a place to have an elegant dinner. Ultimately, we decided on a French bistro as inspiration, and we were able to successfully create a space that encompasses all those aspects.
How important do you feel hotel design has become when launching a new hotel?
Hotel design is extremely important, especially when there is good publicity around its launch to highlight the benefits of the renovation. This hotel has experienced overwhelming success since opening and has surpassed it goals in terms of revenue per available room and occupancy.
Have you noticed any particular trends in hotel design?
Hotels seem to be redesigning their spaces in order to make them more functional for the modern traveller. For example, you might see lots of conveniently located outlets, or updates to the bathroom like backlit mirrors with special LED light settings, and other state-of the art amenities and features that enhance the guest’s experience so it’s more efficient and comfortable.
How important are public spaces in hotels?
Public spaces are important in that they typically establish the overall atmosphere of the hotel. For this particular project, because the property is located in iconic Beverly Hills on an exclusive and elegant street, its public spaces were particularly crucial. We were thoughtful with the design, in that we wanted it to start at the very beginning with the lobby. The entrance is enclosed in architectural panelled walls composed of antique mirror, white bronze metal, and translucent and opaque white-gold glass. Reflective metallic ceilings compliment patterned floor coverings. The glass-top front desk was created from a combination of charcoal gray shagreen leather with accents of polish crome, copper and brass.
What makes SFA Design different to other design companies?
SFA Design is unique in that we combine the personal attentiveness of a boutique firm with the experience and capability of a large corporation. Our firm’s projects across the globe have exposed our staff to a very discerning clientele whose sensibilities require that we work in a range of styles.
How would you define your ‘Hotel Style’?
Our firm prides itself in that we don’t have a signature look. We carefully tailor our design approach to reflect each client’s unique vision and aesthetic. Our design teams are assembled and assigned to each project based on how their strengths and schedules apply, which under Principal direction, creates an optimal foundation to craft spaces that match our client’s unique vision.
What’s next for you and SFA Design?
SFA Design is planning on continuing to be a valuable partner to our international clientele, delivering beautiful and functional spaces around the globe. Our firm has a number of exciting projects in progress in both the residential and hospitality space that continue to challenge and inspire innovative design.