Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, the highly-anticipated Fells Point hotel set to open Tuesday, reads like a love letter to Baltimore and American history.
Built on Recreation Pier, the 128-room boutique hotel is backed by the real estate companies owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and his brother, Scott Plank. It has a natural nautical feel associated with a waterfront property as well as a number of equestrian elements, undoubtedly reflecting Kevin Plank's affinity for horses.
Partick Sutton, the hotel's Baltimore-based interior designer, seasoned the former port warehouse — restored at a cost of roughly $60 million — with historial footnotes and design nods to tell a story.
"One of the things that became evident in the design of the hotel is this confluence of what I refer to as gritty luxury," Sutton said. "It means that you embrace Baltimore's industrial heritage, but then you layer into it the elegance and the luxury aspects that are not only here historically, but also the goal of creating a luxury hotel."
While the brick facade of the Beaux Arts-style Recreation Pier is familiar to Baltimoreans and the public — it was featured regularly in "Homicide: Life on the Street" — the build out of the hotel will offer a new experience for guests. The property is managed by California-based Montage Hotels & Resorts under the Pendry brand.
"It's unique. There are a lot of large chain luxury properties in the city. This has the unique characteristic of being truly on the water," Sutton said. "The rooms really float out over the water."
In advance of the hotel's ribbon cutting on March 21, The Baltimore Sun brings you an exclusive look inside the new property, which is built around an interior courtyard with a pool at the pier's end.
First, the rooms
With courtyard views and a cozy feel, the Superior Courtyard King rooms rival a Captain's Quarters, according to Sutton.
Each standard room, which spans 370 square feet, features a king bed and a 55-inch flat screen LED television. Multi-colored accent rugs, rich wooden accents, mahogany headboards and luxury linens give the rooms what Sutton called a "residential quality" as he adjusted plush pillows adorned by an anchor ensnarled by a massive octopus. Sutton added that the anchor and octopus were actually inspired by a real sailor's tattoo.
These rooms range from $400 to $600 a night, according to Jon Chocklett, director of sales and marketing with the hotel.
Other rooms offer harbor views or two queen beds as an option. And there are a handful of suites offering more space, better views and other amenities.
Sutton predicted that the restored grand staircase, which rises from its own entrance to the ballroom, will be a favorite of brides and wedding photographers alike.
The concrete staircase — it's seven-feet wide compared to the traditional four feet for staircases — is covered in "red dyed, beautifully heathered carpet," Sutton said.
"We restored it to the National Historic Landmark standards," explained Sutton, adding that the two-story staircase features a strip of hidden lighting that makes a parcel of the stair appear to glow at night.
"It's historic and exciting," Sutton said. "It's something special."
'A view of the bombardment of Fort McHenry'
Mounted to the side of the top of the grand staircase is a photographic print of an engraving by John Bower, depicting the massive battle in which the British fleet attempted to take Fort McHenry — and subsequently Baltimore — on Sept. 13, 1814.
The mammoth piece was purchased from the Library of Congress, Sutton said. Using a piece like this in the hotel is in line with both Plank and the Pendry brand, he said.
"Kevin is a story teller. He's always very interested in authentic stories about whatever we are working on," said Sutton, who also worked on Plank's home in Brooklandville. "The same with Pendry. They and Kevin have an aligned vision on this where they wanted the project to feel specifically here. If you start with that precept, there are a lot of factors that are historically here in nature."
With its plaster moldings, gold leaf accents and laylight ceiling, offering the illusion of a skylight, the grand ballroom is the hotel's piece de resistance.
"It's the premiere architectural space in the city," Sutton said of the ballroom, which fits up to 300 people. "It's been restored exactly the way it was in 1940."
In addition to the massive white columns and hulking walls that creates a cavernous feel, the ballroom has enormous windows that look over bustling Thames Street.
"The lighting is beautiful," Sutton said. "It really is breathtaking."
And even though the hotel has yet to open, couples have booked all but two weekends from September to December, Chocklett said.
The hotel's front entrance features a pair of steel sculptures by Adam Scott Cook, who also was one of the architects on the project. Cook worked with Amish artisans to shape the steel for the project, Chocklett said.
The white steel interlocked curved forms entitled "Rituals" are supposed to evoke the sails of ships, a gentle nod to the property's nautical locale, Sutton said.
The structures take on new life in the evening when they are illuminated with incandescent light, he added.
Checking in also will be a memorable experience at the hotel's opulent reception desk.
Situated in front of a large window with a view of the Ann Street Pier, the smooth onyx countertop is dark, rich and inviting. The base of the desk is made out of a curved bronze sheet that mimics a flag in the wind.
"It's subtle, but it ties together," Sutton said.
The desk is canopied by 46 LED droplet lights.
"At night they echo the way the light dapples across the water," Sutton said.
Even the elevator doors tell a story.
Sutton was looking for a design to cover the elevator doors when he found the ancient Arabic geometric pattern he used on the doors while doing a Google image search.
The design had a "quality of fireworks," which related back to the Star Spangled Banner and American history elements. The same motif is used throughout the hotel from the railings to the walls of the private dining room.
"I was looking for a pattern that evoked bombs bursting in air," said Sutton, adding that the hotel is located 1,000 feet from where The Star Spangled Banner was written. "I was looking for that energy."
Private dining room
The hotel's Rec Pier Chop House, which boasts award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini, undoubtedly will attract a fair number of the town's foodies. But the restaurant's private dining room will draw particular attention.
"The bird's eye private dining room was a way to carve out a bit of space," Sutton explained. "It's like this little hidden crow's nest. It's private, but you can look over the edge and engage in the restaurant."
Sutton further embellished the space by using mahogany screens with the same Arabic pattern found on the elevators.
"The purpose is to create mystery," he said.
The hotel's whiskey bar is aptly named for the three cannons that divers salvaged from the harbor surrounding the building during the renovation.
One of those cannons from the late 1600s now rests within the room's flooring. (The other two cannons are located on the hotel's pool deck.)
"Everything in the room is going to be the color of whiskey," Chocklett explained. "It's supposed to emulate the inside of a whiskey barrel."
Amber-hued white oak adorns the walls and ceilings of the 20-person bar, located between the restaurant and the courtyard. Steel straps along the ceiling solidify the barrel nod.
A sleek bar is adorned by brass and glass pendant lamps.
Private boat dock
The hotel also features a private boat dock that can accommodate four slips or a 100-foot yacht. The long white, metal dock, located parallel to the Ann Street Pier, leads to a private reception desk entrance.
Guests can either stay on their boat and receive all of the room service amenities available to guests or they can stay in the hotel.
Docking prices will range from approximately $50 to $75 per foot and will be adjusted based on daily rates or overnight stays.