Fit for Royalty
At the Hirsch Bedner-designed Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, the spa and fitness center are clearly the crowning glory
Lola Pritchard -- Interior Design, 3/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Old-world, Napoleonic, in the style of the French Quarter—these are just some of the descriptive terms that Hirsch Bedner Associates interior designer Jennifer Kleen applies to the spa at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, a Five Diamond property that her firm completed in October 2000. Add to that assessment the hotel group's own statement relating to the 25,000-square-foot, two-level day spa and fitness center: "First we make the world around you. Then we gently slow it down." Both sentiments dovetail to convey a message of grace. And for those patrons who relish royal or imperial ties—just conceivably a bit strained—there are feeling-grand treatments named after the likes of Marie Antoinette, the Sultan of Morocco, and Empress Eugénie.
Elegant interior appointments similarly bring to mind life at grand courts, and word has it that there are official spa historians who will substantiate the then-and-now correlations. According to Kleen, wall finishes and surfaces most effectively illustrate the many references to the past: Visible in the vast double-height vestibule alone are a distressed mirror, pale green Venetian plasterwork (marble mixed with plaster pigment), and inset panels of woven raffia papers with a damask print.
The raffia papers reappear in elevator cabs, and large applications of antiqued papers hand-decorated with gilt adorn the mezzanine lounges. Additionally pleasing to the eye is tie-cinched linen drapery. (Through the interstices a rotunda with a central fountain can be seen.) The honed marble floor tiles have rough, tumbled-marble insets, furniture is custom-made, and an antiqued brass chandelier is covered with sheer fabric. For those interested in sterner stuff, weight-lifting equipment and a resistance pool are never far away.