June 26, 2014

Great Gatsby Comes of Age

Providence-Biltmore1The Providence Biltmore, a landmark 1920s hotel in downtown Providence has completed a full property guest room renovation designed to bring back the authentic character of the hotel while adding the most desirable contemporary amenities.


“The Biltmore is an iconic landmark cherished by the city and generations of visitors,” said Todd Finard, CEO of Finard Properties, the hotel’s owner and operator. “We’ve orchestrated this renovation with great respect for the essence of the hotel, while creating spaces that satisfy the sensibilities and needs of today’s travelers.”


Under the direction of Parker-Torres, an international design firm based in Sudbury, Mass., the historic hotel’s 294 guest rooms and guest corridors have been transformed with a rich color palette, luxurious dark wood finishes, and unique furnishings. Principals Barbara Parker and Miriam Torres have more than twenty years of hospitality experience, and each brings her own set of individual strengths to create a unique design solution for their client. The combination of Barbara’s interior architectural expertise with Miriam’s extensive interior design experience results in high profile designs that the firm has become known for. The design details and meticulous installations reflect the personal touch of the designers from concept through completion.


The lighting fixtures for the Biltmore guestrooms were designed to complement the five-star quality décor. With silver leaf finishes and antique brass accents, the fixtures illustrate the marriage of old-world elegance with a modern aesthetic. Royal Contract Lighting was commissioned by Group One Partners to supply all of the lighting for the 294 guestrooms. From ceiling fixtures to sconces, floor lamps, desk lamps and bathroom vanity lighting, the order totaled more than 1800 individual lights.


“Our challenge was to create luxurious, functional lighting, while meeting the budget expectations of our client”, said Paul Spacek, president of Royal Contract Lighting. “It was an honor to work with Parker Torres on this historic landmark of downtown Providence.”


Placed on the National Preservation Register as one of the country’s cherished architectural treasures, the Providence Biltmore Hotel epitomized the Great Gatsby era, an era of glitter and glamour, beautiful flappers, dashing aristocrats and cool jazz musicians. Its opening night banquet and ball on June 6, 1922, was attended by 1,000 prominent citizens and local officials from Rhode Island and New York.


The imposing 18-story red brick building was designed by New York architects Warren and Wetmore of Grand Central Station fame, and the unique L-shaped design allows all guests to have unobstructed views of Providence from their window. When it opened, the 600-room Biltmore housed a drugstore, printing shop, carpentry and upholstery shop, and photo lab. Customers could also choose from six different restaurants all located within the hotel, and enjoy a rooftop garden complete with chicken coops.

Gatsby Styled Wedding

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, the hotel was hailed as the “tourist and social center of Providence.” The Biltmore’s Garden Room swung to the Big Band sounds of Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey, and the dance floor was once turned into an aquarium, complete with live fish, for a performance by Esther Williams, and frozen solid for an ice show by Sonia Henie.


The Biltmore’s public spaces are a glowing reminder of the classic elegance that marked hotels of its era. The rooftop Grand Ballroom, reached by an ornately adorned elevator, offers sweeping vistas and finely crafted decorative touches.

Now under new ownership and management, the Providence Biltmore enters an exciting next chapter, as the hotel reinterprets its legacy of gracious hospitality and authentic character for today’s business and leisure travelers.

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