CONCEPT: As not only a flagship of the Los Angeles-based Kor Hotel Group, but the flagship of Kor’s Viceroy sub-brand as well, it was essential that the 170-room Viceroy Santa Monica make a strong design statement. Kor principal Brad Korzen believes exceptional design overall is a form of competitive advantage. “Considering our market niche and the destinations where we have hotels, it’s important that we have distinctive design,” Korzen said. Kor’s target guests live in first-class residential interiors, so their expectation is that the hotels they book will surpass what they have in their own homes. “What’s more, they expect interiors that somehow reflect the flavor and sophistication of the local area,” he said.
In the case of Santa Monica, that local ambiance is a mix of Hollywood glamour and the relaxed understatement of a beach resort. The working design concept was to approach the hotel as an urban retreat at the shore. “We started with a gut renovation of the existing building and intentionally left the exterior a kind of blank canvas, which allowed the interior to surprise and excite guests,” said designer Kelly Wearstler of kwid, the hotel’s designer. “We chose dramatic colors for the lobby, in particular, and selected pieces of British Regency style antique furniture. Large windows allow for a profusion of natural light.”
“The contrast in elements is very striking,” Wearstler said. “For a hotel at the beach, it’s like a piece of eye candy.” The rebuilt pool area included new cabanas that add another dramatic, though romantic touch. Guestrooms, by contrast, are softer, more inviting and more residential in feel. Because the guestroom footprint wasn’t very large, mirrored paneling used on the bed wall succeeded in opening up the space. No structural changes were made to bathrooms, but luxury elements such as Calcutta marble were added.