The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT), reopens the doors to the historic Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian, following an extensive $25 million restoration.
The renovation of Hotel Maria Cristina, which was completed in time for its 100th anniversary this month, is part of a larger strategy to invest in the restoration of Starwood’s most celebrated Luxury Collection hotels. The reopening of Hotel Maria Cristina follows in the footsteps of Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Seville, which underwent a meticulous multi-million dollar refurbishment earlier this year. The restored Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris and The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice, will debut in 2013.
‘‘As part of Starwood’s strategy to strengthen our Luxury Collection brand portfolio, we are making major investments to renovate and restore some of our most iconic hotels,’’ comments Roeland Vos, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East.
‘‘Hotel Maria Cristina has been a beloved landmark in this city since 1912 and has been centre stage to the San Sebastian Film Festival for more than half of a century,’’ continues Paul James, Global Brand Leader, St. Regis and The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts. ‘‘We are delighted to reintroduce this historic icon and unlock the exceptional and indigenous experiences of this destination to our guests, as only The Luxury Collection brand can.’‘
Rising above the vivacious and storied city centre of San Sebastian, the building is considered to be one of the grandest hotels in Europe, originally designed by famed French architect Charles Mewès for its namesake, Queen Maria Cristina. The extensive nine-month project, which was led by Idom Engineering & Architecture, features interiors restored by HBA Design; the firm took special care to enhance the élan, soft curves and powerful feminine presence that have characterised the hotel since it opened. The hotel also offers The Luxury Collection Concierge service to all guests, promising the most discerning global travellers an extraordinary experience.
A Century of Elegance Renewed
Christened in July 1912 by a visit from the queen herself, Hotel Maria Cristina was built during the Belle Époque, a time when haute couture was still burgeoning and there was a fluid emphasis on Art Nouveau. The restoration of the landmark hotel focused on refined feminine touches added within its existing framework to create a sense of comfortable and abundant luxury.
The public spaces reveal soaring ceilings, intricate mouldings, towering marble pillars, and a polished grey and white Carrara marble floor. Softening the palatial surfaces, a sophisticated champagne colour palette on the walls and furniture blend together with warm mocha and copper coloured touches found in the soft velvet upholstery and hand-tufted wool rugs. Silvery silk curtains frame the passageways and behind the reception desk padded leather walls fill the trio of arched wall niches.
Hotel Maria Cristina features 107 luxurious guest rooms and 29 suites that are dressed in pastel tones inspired by the fresh tints of macaron patisseries, with elegant gold furnishings and accents. Hues of grey, lavender and sky blue adorn the rooms, while chocolate colours enhance the suites. Strong in form yet unabashedly romantic, the guestrooms’ design revels in the feminine spirit. Plush tufted headboards are framed in white painted mouldings which trace a curvaceous outline and play upon the rooms’ exquisite Art Nouveau detailing.
Exquisite Culinary Experiences
With an astonishing 15 Michelin stars bestowed upon San Sebastian restaurants, culinary aficionados are beckoned to savour distinctive Basque cuisine in this historic city, with Hotel Maria Cristina holding court in its epicentre.
Following the restoration, the hotel introduces Tse Yang, a haute cuisine Chinese restaurant. First established 15 years ago in Madrid, then in Geneva, Tse Yang brings the elegance and sophistication of its authentic Chinese cuisine to San Sebastian, offering the city’s residents and visitors an unforgettable gastronomic experience. Signature dishes include lobster mushi, Peking roast duck and dim sum.
Easo Restaurant, set within an octagonal dining room bathed in natural light, offers a delightful start to the day with a delectable selection of local Basque, international and organic dishes, alongside views of the Urumea River and Victoria Eugenia Theatre Square. The bar, Dry San Sebastian, a joint collaboration between Hotel Maria Cristina and the renowned Dry Martini Group, has been transformed into an inviting social hub for both locals and guests, where lingering over a morning cappuccino can lead to an evening of gazing at the glitterati while sipping martinis. The bar was inspired by legendary actress Bette Davis and features art that pays tribute to the renowned San Sebastian Film Festival. Harkening back to the glamour of the 1950s, Dry San Sebastian offers live musical performances each evening.