Four Seasons enters the last lap of its most challenging restoration project to date

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has now started an official countdown to the opening of its newest restoration project – the 177-room Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, St Petersburg. Designed in 1817 by French architect Auguste de Montferrand as a Russian Palace, the Hotel represents possibly Four Seasons’ most ambitious and culturally important project in its more than 50-year history. Once home to Princess Lobanova-Rostovskaya, Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace will be the company’s first hotel in Russia and will set new standards of luxury and service in the city of St Petersburg and, indeed, the country. This painstaking project follows Four Seasons’ successful restoration of historic properties in Florence, Budapest, Istanbul and Milan and reflects the group’s ever-growing focus on rescuing unique heritage buildings as it expands its range of properties in Europe. “It is always difficult to confirm an exact opening date on a restoration project of this scale and complexity, however we are currently preparing for a Spring opening with great confidence. Anyone who has followed what was achieved in Florence or Budapest will appreciate that, with Four Seasons, the doors will only open when every last detail is as it should be. Patience will be rewarded and I am confident this will be one of the most talked about hotel openings in 2013,” said Martin Rhomberg, the hotel’s General Manger.

    Four Seasons and its development partners have been working closely with the Russian heritage and planning authorities to ensure that the project reaches the same high standards of historical authenticity and cultural sensitivity for which the group has been applauded for in the historical cities of Florence, Istanbul, Budapest and Milan.

    The building is located in the heart of the city and has an impressive yellow façade with huge classical white columns and a blue-green rooftop – all of which combine to make it the epitome of St. Petersburg elegance. Before the work could start, the development team produced an over 1,000-page Historical Note document covering all aspects of the proposed works for submission to the St Petersburg heritage authorities. As an example of the essential attention to detail, the existing exterior painted surfaces were studied by experts who discovered that the building had over forty remaining layers of paint. Consequently the process of choosing the most authentic colour was far from straightforward.

    The hotel’s main entrance is guarded by two magnificent white marble lions that have been immortalized in Alexander Pushkin’s 1833 poem, “The Bronze Horseman.” The restoration team are obviously keen to preserve and protect this venerable pair who have now survived nearly two centuries of St Petersburg’s eventful history. During the Siege of Leningrad (as it then was known) in the Second World War they remained bravely at their posts and despite the remorseless shelling which the city suffered thanks to some strategically-placed wooden boards. The female sculpted figures also have been restored and sit atop the hotel’s terraces. Often wrongly assumed to be angels, they are in fact muses (as angels were reserved for churches in Russia) and bear the coat of arms of the Russian Empire.

    The hotel has an impressive main stairway dressed in marble with elaborate mouldings and gold and bronze decoration, all of which has been restored to the original 1820s drawings of Auguste de Monteferrand with Reardon Smith Architects and interior designer Cheryl Rowley leading the restoration and conversion.

    Located in the historic Admiralteysky district – just two blocks from the Hermitage Museum and close to Nevsky Prospekt and the Mariinsky Theatre – the hotel will immediately be positioned among Russia’s finest hotels. Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg provides the dream St Petersburg luxury accommodation experience: living like Russian royalty in an authentic 19th-century palace. The newly appointed luxury hotel areas reflect imperial Russian style while feeling fresh, light and contemporary.

    The Lion Palace joins a collection of unique and architecturally important heritage hotels in Europe whose origins range from the fifteenth to the early twentieth centuries. These now include the Four Seasons Hotel Florence, sensitively adapted over ten years from two Renaissance palaces and set in an idyllic 11-acre garden; the Four Seasons Gresham Palace, an Art Nouveau landmark in the remarkable city of Budapest; the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, housed in a century-old neo-classical prison; the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, transformed from a nineteenth century former Ottoman place; the Four Seasons Hotel Milan developed from a Fifteenth Century convent and the legendary Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, an eight story landmark built in 1928.

    Daniel Fountain / 10.01.2013

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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