Crafting a Modern Classic Hotel
Building a Gilded Age escape within the confines of modern regulations was no small feat, but Olson Lewis + Architects was up to the challenge.
Photo by Paul Lyden
Without John Olson, guests at Gloucester’s Beauport Hotel would have had an eyeful of more than Gloucester Harbor while enjoying the luxurious lobby lounge and bar. When Olson, founding principal of Olson Lewis + Architects, got involved with the project, plans called for the swimming pool to be located on the same level as the restaurant and lobby.
“I … promoted moving the pool to the roof by using the image of almost anyone in a Speedo as way to ruin a dinner,” says Olson, whose work in hospitality spans the globe, from the redesign of the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge to projects in Egypt and Curacao. Now, the rooftop pool, showcasing views of the harbor and the working waterfront, is a spectacular private retreat for hotel guests – and no one has to traipse through the lobby in a Speedo.
Moving the pool to the roof was just one of a series of choices Olson and his team made to craft the luxury property. From taking full advantage of water views in public spaces to crafting thoughtful service corridors, no angle was left unexplored.
“There is an aspect of ‘show biz’ to a hotel,” Olson says. “A good hotel design separates the guest from the service without crossing paths.” To accomplish that, service and support facilities wrap the perimeter of the building on the street side, leaving the water side unobstructed.
As a result, gorgeous ocean views greet guests at every turn in, from the grand second floor lobby lounge to the function space. Maximizing those views –and creating a flow that works for guests and staff –has been critical to the success of the luxury property, which has been drawing praise since its debut this summer.
“I like the way the lobby, bar, restaurant and outdoor deck all flow together while retaining the focus on the great views to the beach and oceanfront,” Olson says. “There is a happy party buzz that permeates the lobby and flows down to the entry level. The sound draws you up the stair to the lobby level to see what’s happening or what you’re missing. Then you can choose to join the party, sit in the quieter lobby or restaurant or head for the outdoor deck.”
Not surprisingly, great ocean views come with a number of architectural challenges. Sited right on the beach, on a small plot of land, the complications of crafting a large luxury property were many – starting from the ground up. Because it is in a flood zone, the hotel starts on the second floor – guests enter via a grand staircase, while below is reserved for parking. To make the windowless street side entrance more inviting, Olson Lewis designed a two-part base for the building. The lower part evokes a seaport pier or wharf, highlighted by horizontal bands of heavy rough cedar planking. Above that, on the second level is a white band articulated with square latticework and vertical columns. Now, Olson says, “instead of complaints about the blank walls, we get many compliments.”