Thursday 08 Sep 2011


JOI-Design Crafts Understated Maritime Elegance at the Steigenberger Grandhotel and Spa in Usedom

Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts has chosen the award-winning interior design practice JOI-Design to create the interior style and set the bar for the debut of the brand's "Extraklasse", or five-star superior, quality level. Located in the Baltic Sea on the Isle of Usedom, the new-build Steigenberger Grandhotel and Spa runs alongside a 10 km shoreline promenade in Heringsdorf, a town that has long been a favourite with legendary monarchs and cultural luminaries due to its relative privacy, unspoiled shorelines and natural wetlands. This flagship resort is also the first property from Steigenberger that does not feature a "traditional" style. Instead, its design has been inspired by the cool, maritime chic of the Hamptons and Cape Cod. Every material is of the highest quality and has been implemented in a tastefully subdued manner so that the hotel has an exclusive, yet relaxed, elegance.

The hotel comprises three buildings, the Grand Palais which contains the public areas, restaurants, shops, spa and guestrooms; and then the Palais Wilhelm and the Palais Bismarck, which each house serviced apartments. Upon entry into the Grand Palais, guests discover a décor that balances understated sophistication with welcoming comfort. In the lobby, the timeless flair of black and white is expressed through a long reception counter capped with a white countertop and a lacquered timber shelf which extends to a more intimate transaction desk. The twinkle of the desk's polished chrome lamps is juxtaposed by the rough texture of the feature wall's horizontal, whitewashed oak planks. For guests desiring further privacy, tufted high-back chairs in houndstooth upholstery flank a separate table crafted from ebony timber with antique-style turned legs.

Transitioning into the lounge, guests encounter an airy space with an assortment of heathered green ottomans and ivory leather sofas with striped cotton cushions. Axminster carpets woven in a stylised houndstooth reference the reception area's design, and a crystal chandelier hangs before an impressive floor-to-ceiling fireplace surround constructed of amber flecked sandstone. The cladding wraps around a central partition, leading the eye to the subdued luxury of the leather-panelled bar and warm timber floor laid in a fishbone pattern. Rustic driftwood lamps and cowhide ottomans sit next to formal, overstuffed sofas for an eclectic décor mix.

The library is a modern interpretation of a traditional British club. Cream and white tones create an exciting contrast to masculine port and navy blue finishes as well as the espresso timber of the square sofas with bookcases built into the arms. The outlined oval lighting cove, marble fireplace, and silver plated globe and sailboat provide subtle references to New England-style luxury. A collection of framed historic paintings and etchings, alongside colourful book jackets and tufted leather settees and club chairs create a cosy residential ambiance.

A multitude of dining experiences is available to guests. In "Lilienthal" restaurant, named after the aviation pioneer with historical roots in Usedom, high-flying elegance abounds. Golden hues, a reference to the Baltic Sea's famous amber stones, have been combined with deep blues and silvery greys in classic patterns such as the delicate pinstripe wallcovering and diamond crosshatch Axminster carpet. Gracefully curved chandeliers hung from high ceilings emphasise the restaurant's airy, feminine feel, while flowing ivory sheers hung from inset tracks allow for flexible layouts within the 168-seat space and create intimate nooks with degrees of privacy. Outdoors, an 80-seat terrace overlooks the shoreline.

Within Lilienthal is an haute cuisine, à la carte salon entitled "Seaside". The smart black-and-white palette of the 40-seat space allows the colourful cuisine and coastal panorama glimpsed beyond the 20-seat terrace to be that much more vibrant. Modelled after a fine English tea room, the flouncy scrolled wallcovering, dainty pin-dot patterned Axminster carpet and a Murano glass chandelier reminiscent of a sea creature's tendrils serve to balance the room's clean, square lines that have been inspired by traditional seaside architecture. Porcelain spice jar vases painted with sunny orange goldfish add a delightful touch of whimsy. The rustic design of Lilienthal's wine tasting room is a reference to the "terroir" of viticulture. A long, timber dining table runs alongside a bespoke wine display cabinet, and touches such as lamps crafted from gnarled vines encourage a convivial atmosphere.

"Waterfront", the resort's Champagne and seafood bistro and bar, is located directly on the esplanade and attracts visitors strolling along the seaside as well as hotel guests. Breezes from the waterfront float past the outdoor terrace and into the café through many large windows decorated with light, gauzy sheers. A crisp and clean palette of cool whites contrasted with marine and navy blues promotes a lively, yet laid-back vibe. The focal point of the room is a nautical map of the Baltic Sea, a wallcovering which runs the entire perimeter and is accented by the tongue-and-groove bead board panelling installed below. A large, glass-fronted service counter displays the fresh seafood "catch(es) of the day". Guests may sit on either bar stools or a long banquette - crafted in the style of the promenade's park benches - and dine at luxury "picnic tables". The heavy, solid feel of the white painted furniture, plus plush seat and back cushions and the warm contrast of oak plank flooring and rustic copper pendant lights, all contribute to a comfortable, residential ambience. A "school" of fish sculptures lined up on a display shelf adds a whimsical touch and reminds diners of the regions' natural wildlife.

Every detail in the 2000 m2 grand spa has been thoughtfully planned to delight and pamper guests. A heated outdoor pool looks onto the neighbouring dunes and, in a luxurious touch, extends into the internal pool deck. Designed in the style of a cruise ship, marine ropes hung from internally lit soffits provide transparent spatial definition while luminous portholes line the wall and a fine mesh fabric draped above the pool is reminiscent of sails. With a nod to Fibonacci and nautilus seashells, the spiral staircase sweeps up to the spa spaces. Wallcovering panels in the curved corridors feature enlarged black-and-white photographic details of Usedom's historic beachside architecture.

In the treatment rooms, the colour palette and finishes have been drawn from the island's pure beauty. Warm tans, golden browns and sophisticated taupes in natural loom and linen fibres encourage guests to connect with nature, while subtly varied mosaic tiles reflect the muted pastels of tiny shells washed ashore. Selective design details in the changing rooms, such as the stylised font and vents used for the locker doors, conjure up visions of a "luxury" waterfront pier shanty in days of yore. The spa's restaurant also has the feel of an esteemed sea resort. White slatted window shutters, woven wicker chairs and lamps made from glass-enclosed driftwood create a down-to-earth, yet refined, ambiance.

The sea-facing guestrooms follow a smart, "Baltic chic" concept. Fresh whites, as seen in the wideplank timber headboard, linens, cornices and cabinetry, have been combined with sandy tans, found in the honey stained oak joinery, nubby fabrics and wave-stitched wool carpet, to result in a calming, comfortable tone. Varying shades of blue, from the soothing pastel of the accent wallcovering to the rich navy stripes of the bed valance, curtains and lounge chair upholstery, offset the crisp whites to bring warmth into the room. Judicious details also help the bedroom feel more like a home than a hotel; for example, embroidered bed cushions, caramel leather pull-out handles on the bedside tables, and a finely carved moulding that frames the bookshelf while lessening the inset TV's dominance of the space.

Rather than a conventional layout in which the bathroom is accessed inside the guestroom's entryway, greater privacy has been achieved by orienting this to the room's interior. White double doors open into the sun-tinged bathroom, which features the luxurious touch of having a bath that is separate from the shower. Large mirrors hang above a generous, white timber vanity as well as a smaller one, giving guests individual spaces. The colour of their tawny species granite tops refers to the amber stones sourced from the Baltic Sea.

In addition to the "Baltic" style, JOI-Design has created two further schemes for the hotel's residential suites, "urban" and "classic". The "urban" scheme introduces a modern flair. Espresso stained oak flooring and joinery mix with heathered grey and vibrant cherry toned textiles and a fireplace wall accent to create an environment that feels warm for guests visiting during the chillier months. Yet simultaneously, the coolness provided by the crisp white walls and expansive windows makes the space feel light and airy for use during the summer season. Quirky design touches, such as the striped fabric band at the bottom of the curtains and large silvered spice jars help contribute to the space's sense of being a comfortable home.

The "classic" suite scheme uses soothing amethyst and taupe tones to help create a decidedly residential feel. In the living room, solid straight-lined joinery hewn from dark stained oak, lounge chairs with rich plum velvets embroidered with a golden floral pattern, and vintage black-and-white waterfront photographs subtly allude to a beachside home. Astutely selected design elements build the sense of this being a personal space rather than a hotel; for example, roughly woven baskets, a simple painted hearth surround, and understated tone-on-tone cream curtains sewn from cloth that appears to have been stamped with a leafy woodblock print. In the same space is a handsome timber dining table for meals and playing games.

The secondary bedroom features one large tufted cream headboard framed in dark oak to run behind both single beds, thus allowing the option of the beds being joined together while maintaining the room's visual appeal and functionality. Sliding oak-slat doors in the master bedroom cover the closets and shelves, resulting in a harmonious, well-groomed space. Outside, a generously sized balcony with
Adirondack chairs runs alongside the master and secondary bedrooms then wraps around the living and dining spaces, ensuring spectacular views of the gardens and shoreline beyond.