CONCEPT: Emboldened by the success of the first Hotel ZaZa in Dallas, ZaZa Resorts, the owner of the Dallas property and the ZaZa brand, wanted to make sure its second property, the Hotel ZaZa Houston, had its own unique style, yet shared with its sister hotel the same high levels of service and employee attitude.
“[The Hotel ZaZa Houston] has a sort of fashion feel to it while the Dallas has more of south of France feeling. So the intent of every Hotel ZaZa will be different, but you’ll still feel like you’re in a Hotel ZaZa,” explained Charlie Givens, the co-owner of ZaZa Resorts, who added that the Hotel ZaZa Houston had to be carved from what had been the historic Warwick Hotel.
Givens further noted that the rather eclectic and specific concept he wanted for the Hotel ZaZa Houston was “Phantom of the Opera meets Versace meets George Clooney meets Alan Greenspan.”
Tasked with interpreting that complex concept was Dallas-based Duncan & Miller Design, the interior designer of the first Hotel ZaZa. “We went in there knowing that the Warwick Hotel had a sentimental place in the heart of the city,” said Katie Wingfield, a senior interior designer with Duncan & Miller. “We dissected it space by space and spent a lot of time on every fabric. Everything we picked was with the overall concept in mind. In other words, would you see Alan Greenspan sitting at this bar? We used all five senses for the design. We didn’t just focus on whether something looked pretty. We wanted it to also feel that way. We attacked piece by piece.”
Following ZaZa Resorts’ acquisition of the Warwick Hotel and a few months of operating it as the Warwick, the hotel was shutdown for what would be a 16-month renovation, which enabled Duncan & Miller to truly attack the project. However, the firm did not choose to rip out the Warwick’s entire soul and decided instead to painstakingly design around many of the existing elements and, according to Givens, “turn them into funky or endearing attributes.”
As an example of this tactic, Givens said that in the hotel’s lobby Duncan & Miller worked around and kept the original paneling that came over from Versailles, France, around 1930. “We worked around those panels and did some unique lighting around them,” he said. “We also found an old chandelier in a crate in the basement that weighed 650 pounds and was worth $300,000. We reassembled and installed it and now it looks spectacular.”
The highlight of the renovation may have been the creation of the Magnificent Seven— which actually number eight— suites that are also found in the original Hotel ZaZa. However, the Houston hotel’s rooms, which are all individually themed and designed, are not duplications of the original Magnificent Seven suites.
As explained by Wingfield, the Hotel ZaZa Houston’s indulgent suites include Rock Star (a carryover from the Dallas hotel and indicative of a rock star’s room), Black Label (chic and for the internationally sophisticated traveler), For Your Eyes Only (a sexier, more provocative version of Black Label), Fatal Charms (sensual and touchy feely), Bella Vita (Italian opulence), It Happened One Night (an interpretation of George Clooney’s apartment) Tycoon (fat cat, high roller suite) and Outlaw (movie-glamorized Texas).
Through the creation of the Magnificent Seven suites and the rest of the hotel’s guestrooms, the hotel went from 321 to 315 rooms in the end, according to Givens. Wingfield added that the old guestrooms were gutted and now embody a calm feeling with high-end linens, finishes and fixtures. The colors, which are found throughout the hotel, are neutral with a lot of black with red accents.
The grand opening for the hotel took place on June 1 with a 3,000-person party, which is apparently a testament to Houston’s acceptance of this replacement for the Warwick Hotel. “The feedback has been pretty overwhelming, even from the Houston natives who were nervous about saying goodbye to the Warwick,” Wingfield noted.
Added Givens: “We think it has exceeded our expectations.”
Project Owner: ZaZa Resorts
Designer: Duncan & Miller Design
Project Cost: undisclosed
Theme/Influence: Phantom of the Opera meets Versace meets George Clooney meets Alan Greenspan
Signature Features: Lobby fountain, Rock Star suite’s glass elevator, Tycoon suite’s balcony bathtub
Purchasing Agent: Duncan & Miller Design
Major Vendors: Kimball, Versailles, Hallmark Lighting