19th century palace in the heart of the city is reborn as the first Four Seasons in Russia - with more to come.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, July 3, 2013 /CNW/ - While Peter the Great was known to prefer more humble accommodations, Catherine the Great certainly would have approved: nearly two centuries after its debut as the city's most exclusive residence, the "House with Lions" is reborn as Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg. Ideally situated next to St. Isaac's Cathedral – and designed by the same architect – the edifice immortalized in Alexander Pushkin's most famous poem gives way to glamorous new hotel accommodations, dining and drinking concepts, event spaces and soon, the city's most sumptuous spa.
"Years of meticulous restoration and perfecting of the guest experience are setting the stage for a new era of style and luxury in St. Petersburg," says Christopher Norton, who is President – Europe, Middle East and Africa for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
"At Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg, the romance of imperial life meets modern luxury with exquisite precision, creating a hotel experience like no other," says General Manager Martin Rhomberg. "We proudly open our doors and welcome Russians and international travellers back inside this landmark palace."
A New Era
The iconic triangular building in the heart of St. Petersburg was originally conceived by Auguste Montferrand as the private address of the city's elite, with a see-and-be-seen grand lobby leading to a number of fashionable apartments, conveniently located just steps from the Winter Palace. Today, a guest awakening in the luxe comfort of a signature Four Seasons bed and looking out through high windows at Peter's great city may be forgiven for imagining themselves in another time, while those coming to meet, drink and dine in the Hotel's extraordinary restaurants and bar will know that they are living at the leading edge of the 21st century.
Every need and want is anticipated by expert Four Seasons staff, including VIP access to the city's most exciting events and arts venues – from off-hours museum and gallery tours to premier performance seating, the chance to attend rehearsals and visit backstage at the Mariinsky Theatre.
While many travellers flock to the city for the annual White Nights celebrations each June, Chef Concierge Olga Kachalova promises an incredible experience year round: "Through the summer and fall, everyone gathers to watch the city's famous bridges open each evening, and as we stroll along the waterways, we enjoy the best views of the most beautiful palaces and museums in St. Petersburg. And just outside the city, history can be explored in the imperial palaces – my favourite is Peterhof, with its breathtaking fountains in the summer."
In the colder months, it's time to spend leisurely hours immersed in St. Petersburg's art scene. Olga recommends: "In addition to seeking out classical art, we encourage guests to visit the Erarta Galleries, a five-story multi-sensory modern art experience. And with the Hermitage celebrating its 250th anniversary next year, there will be a full calendar of events and special exhibitions."
Life in the Lion Palace
Montferrand's original vision and 19th century imperial aesthetic set the design direction for the new Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg. Every detail was studied and considered carefully before a single paintbrush was employed, resulting in a look that is authentic to the classic, European-influenced style of the period. For example, the Hotel's 151 guest rooms offer distinct colour palettes: sky blue and yellow with a hint of garnet, or pale yellow with blue hues; and for the 26 suites, turquoise and gold with shades of brown. Neo-classic mahogany, hazelnut and cherry furnishings with gilding, black lacquer and chinoiserie motifs were sourced across Europe and are now showcased among finishing materials including velvet, silk and lush woven textures for fabrics, and marble, granite and gilt mirrors for the fixtures.
When making reservations, guests are faced with some interesting choices – will it be one of the fifth floor Terrace Rooms, with their views across the city? Or perhaps one of the suites on the first floor, where the ceilings are highest (and where the most coveted apartments were originally situated)? For those who will settle only for the very best, the Lobanov Presidential Suite boasts a large columned terrace, and a bath fit for a tsar – carved from a single slab of marble, with a hand-painted fresco above.
"Regardless of size or floor, for a truly unforgettable vantage point we're recommending any room on the southwest side – the view of St. Isaac's Cathedral will give you goosebumps," predicts Martin.
One departure from history is the Hotel's art collection. Many paintings were commissioned from students at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, showcasing the vanguard of creative interpretation in a city long recognized as one of the world's art capitals.
Za Vas! Dining and Drinking at Four Seasons
At Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, Russia's rich culinary history – including the heavy influence of many other European and Asian cuisines – opens a new chapter.
In the Tea Lounge, styled as a winter garden filled with trees and flowers, guests will find the traditional Russian specialities they crave, while locals will be delighted by modern interpretations of old favourites. The Olivier Salad is elevated with chicken or quail and crayfish; Siberian venison is smoked and served as a carpaccio with marinated foie gras and beet root dressing; and the international classic Beef Stroganoff is revisited, layering the richly sauced meat over truffled mashed potatoes. Caviar – the "Tsar's favourite pearls" – is served with traditional condiments and blini. Afternoon Tea has a distinctly Russian flavour, with luscious sweets ranging from pistachio financier to opera cake and vatrushka. The Tea Lounge is open daily for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner.
Xander Bar is another world entirely. Named for Tsar Alexander I, who reigned at the time of the palace's construction, it's reminiscent of a private club with library and double-sided fireplace welcoming guests in from the cold. Zakuski (appetizers) are washed down with a choice of dozens of the finest Russian and international vodkas, and for guests who can't decide on one, several vodka tasting flights are offered. When selecting from the caviar menu, connoisseurs may wish to opt for the Prestige Cuvee Cristal Champagne, created by Louis Roederer for Tsar Alexander II in 1876.
Preview: Innovative Dining Concepts
In the weeks following, Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace will reveal Sintoho, a fresh take on Asian cuisine named for Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong – just three of the destinations inspiring its cuisine. A lively setting including an open sushi counter sets the tone for a dining experience marked by fresh ingredients and eclectic menu choices, including the signature wild salmon tartare with avocado salsa relish, crispy skin and sambal; and Singapore-style king crab legs in chilli sauce with egg. Cocktails will include everything from the classic Singapore Sling to the dangerously delicious Hong Kong Fuey, as well as a border-crossing selection of sakes, beers and teas. A semi-private teppanyaki grill room will host private events for up to eight guests.
And later this year, Michelin-starred Executive Chef Andrea Accordi will take guests on a journey through his Italian homeland at Percorso. "Every country cooks the same ingredient differently. To be successful in the kitchen, it's important to understand this."
With stunning views of St. Issac's Cathedral, Percorso will be a feast for the senses as well as the palate with such creations as Chef's own strozzapreti, featuring Mediterranean seaweed, clams, calamari and tuna; and his anatra, a whole spit-roasted duck with citrus glaze and cherry and pink pepper compote. There will be several private dining opportunities, with the option for the host to consult with the Chef on a bespoke family-style Italian menu, including selections from Percorso's deep international wine cellar.
A Moment in Time: Spa at Four Seasons
In late 2013, Four Seasons will open the city's most intimate spa enclave within the triangular central space of the Lion Palace. The Luceo Spa will offer eight treatment rooms – including a deluxe couple's suite with private lounge – a salon, 24-hour fitness centre, and, topping off the four-level Spa complex, a glass-topped year round pool. Luxuriously appointed changing rooms each feature an experience shower, dry sauna and steamy Russian-style sauna, complete with birch branches to invigorate the skin.
The Hotel's first guests will enjoy a special preview of what's to come in the Luceo Spa Suites or in the privacy of their own room, beginning with the signature Luceo Aromatherapy Massage featuring traditional Russian massage techniques using Santa Maria Novella's Four Seasons oils.
In addition to massages, facials and the Royal Body Scrub are also offered in this preview period, featuring exceptional international products such as Omorovicza from Hungary. Renowned spa brand ila has created a new product collection infused with amber, exclusively for Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace.
Getting Together: The City's Best Address for Business and Social Functions
With five weddings booked before the Hotel has welcomed its first guests, Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace is already part of the city's social scene. The opulent Montferrand Grand Ballroom features an elegant stairway for the bride and groom to make their entrance, while six smaller rooms – each named for important Russian and European architects and artists – offer more intimate options for parties and meetings.
When business is on the agenda, guests can count on a high level of Four Seasons service that is both attentive and discreet. Aside from the larger function rooms, the naturally lit Rastrelli Boardroom, featuring up-to-the-minute technologies, can accommodate up to 14. A 24-hour business centre includes workstations, a meeting room and services ranging from travel arrangements to translation and secretarial services.
Families visiting Four Seasons will also find much to welcome them, from special in-room surprises for the children to babysitting services when parents wish to go out on the town.
Four Seasons in Russia
The opening of the first Four Seasons in Russia will soon be followed by the second: in 2014, Four Seasons Hotel Moscow will open in Manezhnaya Square, adjacent to the entrance gates of Red Square with views of the Kremlin, historic Duma and iconic domes and spires of Saint Basil's Cathedral.
This unique project is a modern replica of the famous Hotel Moskva from the 1930s, with an identical facade constructed on the site of the original building, which was demolished in 2002. Inside, the modern hotel will offer 175 rooms and suites; two restaurants plus tea lounge, bar and poolside cafe; an expansive spa and indoor pool; and state-of-the-art event and meeting spaces.
About Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is dedicated to perfecting the travel experience through continual innovation and the highest standards of hospitality. From elegant surroundings of the finest quality, to caring, highly personalized 24-hour service, Four Seasons embodies a true home away from home for those who know and appreciate the best. The deeply instilled Four Seasons culture is personified in its employees - people who share a single focus and are inspired to offer great service. Founded in 1960, Four Seasons has followed a targeted course of expansion, opening hotels and residences in major city centres and desirable resort destinations around the world. With 91 properties in 38 countries, and more than 60 projects under development, Four Seasons continues to lead the hospitality industry with innovative enhancements, making business travel easier and leisure travel more rewarding. 2013 Accolades include 22 AAA Five Diamond Awards, 31 properties included on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, 17 spas recognized on the Conde Nast Traveler Top Spas list, 32 U.S. News & World Report Gold and Silver Badge Winners, three Travel + Leisure Social Media in Travel and Tourism (SMITTY) Awards, including Best Hotel Chain, 16 properties included in Robb Report's Top 100 Hotels list and six Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards. For more information on Four Seasons, visit http://press.fourseasons.com and follow on Twitter at @FourSeasonsPR.
Contact: Laura Fairweather, Manager, Corporate Public Relations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-441-4233
SOURCE: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
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