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San Francisco Luxury Hotels: Trying Waaaay to Hard on the Cool Front

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“At all levels — but especially at the high end — many hotels just feel fancy rather than well designed ... They’re overdone simply for the sake of being overdone.” This scathing assessment was delivered by a San Francisco-based hotel executive in a New York Times on luxury hotels' struggle to reinvent their brands while clamoring for cool cred and a younger, more sophisticated clientele. Which local hotel provided the pictorial fodder for the not-so-thinly veiled tale of corporation desperation? None other than our city's finest architectural treasure, the InterContinental. Flat-screened televisions in the bathroom, sprayer showers, a "culture focused" concierge floor— where does it stop? Or rather, when does "trying" become "trying waaaay to hard." As in, embarrassingly so. The answer, gleaned from the Times: The Starwood Hotel group has hired a "cultural curator" to lend some (k)class to its luxury outlets, including San Francisco's Le Méridien. Rather than bringing on some corporate hack "art consultant," however, they're roped in the founder of the Palais de Tokyo, a Paris-based contemporary art space that was (until now) rather, well, cool.

Said curator, whose name we'll protect lest he desire to work in a museum again, will forge some sort of programming partnership with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. (Breath: bated.) He's also developing in-house amenities such as celeb-chef designed business breakfast menus; specialty Illy coffee drinks; and a Méridien scent, LM01, by the French perfume company Le Labo. Overkill: overkilled.
· The Deluxe Chains Want to Be Chic, Too [NYT]

[The InterContinental's in-bathroom televisions. Image courtesy the NYT.]