September 18, 2012
Checking In with the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta
Western luxury and Oriental touches lead to supreme service for out-of-towners and Atlanta dwellers
By Nancy Staab
- All photos courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Atlanta
Buckhead’s newest 5-star hotel hosts a press luncheon to premiere the new property.
The global, 5-star, Mandarin Oriental group began quietly assuming responsibility for the former Mansion on Peachtree Rosewood Hotel this May, but with the fall season, they are slowly rolling out the inimitable Mandarin touches that they are putting on the place. With a prime Buckhead location, polished decors (they are not really touching these) and a starchitect Robert A. M. Stern spire to boot, the changes to the hotel have been of a more subtle and carefully considered nature than a major overhaul. But….all these small tweaks do add up to a world of discreet luxury, pampering and indulgence, service and experiential richness. Here’s the scoop on what’s in store for our city’s premiere Mandarin Oriental Atlanta hotel.
Mandarin Oriental Atlanta’s polished new GM, Robert Lowe, an Argentinian by birth, has an impressive resume with stints at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco and Washington D.C. and, most recently, its New York property on his resumé. A bit of trivia: the Buenos Aires native is fluent in both English and Spanish.
The Rooms and Décor
Not to fear, the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta will retain the Hollywood Regency glamour of the hotel’s black-and-white marble lobby and dramatic curving staircase. Ditto the elegant, elongated side bar re-named the Taipan Cocktail Bar and the private dining room (done in periwinkle with floral-like chandeliers) overlooking the English Gardens.
However, one big change, is a dramatic collection of large-scale artwork from local Bill Lowe Gallery that punctuates the public spaces. Apparently the artwork will continually rotate in the hotel spaces like a worldly art exchange program. The hotel hopes to host future dinners and cocktails with local artists and potential art collectors.
The quietly sophisticated guest rooms in neutral platinum and champagne hues, with accents of dark Macassar Ebony, will remain intact. The sumptuous rooms are replete with flatscreens that vanish behind artwork, even one in the white marble bath with dual vanities and custom Shanghai Tang toiletries from Hong Kong. (Lovebirds will want to ask for the special Romance Package, including a custom drawn, candlelit, orchid and roses bath for two.) Velvet seating, balconies with stunning city views from every room in the hotel, a bedside Bose station for plugging in your personal iPod, wired and wireless high-speed Internet access, and a electronic messaging system relaying whether you request privacy or want to have your room made up, add loads of luxe to the stay. Upon arrival all guests are greeted with the traditional Oriental welcome tea ceremony and “oshibori,” i.e. the presentation of hot towels.
The Food and Beverage Program
No word yet on whether the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta will import a celebrity chef or just a superb non-celeb culinary team for the hotel’s in-house The Café & Bar. In the past, the Mandarin Oriental group has been famous for introducing super star chefs to some of its properties like Daniel Boulud or Heston Blumenthal, or rising star chefs like Eric Zeibold of CityZen and sister restaurant MoZU at Mandarin Oriental Washington D.C. GM Robert Lowe says that the jury is still out on a celeb chef for Atlanta. In the meantime, Texas-based chain Del Frisco’s Grille (no formal association with Mandarin Oriental) will open on the hotel’s property in the former Craft space in mid-October. However the Mandarin staff is slowly importing Mandarin Oriental touches and hope to offer music and entertainment on the weekends and brunches on Sunday.
As a potential hint of the culinary program to come, the sophisticated press lunch included Continental dishes with both Asian and local Atlanta touches: seared diver scallops with blood orange and citrus five-spice butter and local Ashland Farm flowers; swordfish with heirloom tomato salad; and grilled rib-eye with local spinach and braised carrots with bacon marmalade. For dessert: an adorable miniature peach on a spoon consisting of watermelon sorbet and champagne gelée and a Meyer lemon bar with strawberry meringue.
The Asian-inflected spa experience has always been a cornerstone of Mandarin Oriental’s many global properties. And this one, overseen by spa director Gretchen Vandegrift, will be no exception, with treatments absolutely customized to the client’s needs that day, a holistic aromatherapy approach, and a series of divine yin-yang custom oil treatments, created with input from a traditional Chinese doctor, that stimulate all the senses. Yin treatments focus on relaxation, while Yang treatments focus on energy and uplift. A special, 50-minute peaches and cream skin treatment, exfoliation and massage is unique to the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta. Prestigious ESPA products, exclusive to Mandarin Oriental Atlanta in the state of Georgia, are used for all facials and body treatments. All products used in treatments in the spa are also available for sale. Couples can book the VIP massive couples suite with soaking tub, showers and paired tables. Working girls can drop by for a quick mani/pedi with complimentary valet for all spa visits. Serious spa-goers can take advantage of the hotel’s steam room, sauna, gym, yoga studio and lap pool as well. The 15,000 square-foot spa, itself, is open to both hotel guests and in-town clients. The full spa menu will be posted soon at the hotel’s website: www.mandarinoriental.com/atlanta
Private Events, Including Chinese New Year and the 50th Anniversary of Mandarin Oriental
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. The first Hong-Kong-based hotel opened in 1963. So expect the local Mandarin Oriental Atlanta hotel to plan a special bash or special offers in celebration of this milestone. We hear that another big occasion for celebration at the hotel will be the Chinese New Year. The Oriental Ballroom, holding up to 200 guests, and several smaller, elegant spaces are available for meetings and conferences, private events and weddings.
Mandarin Oriental Atlanta, 3376 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA, 30326. Phone: 404.995.7500 or www.mandarinoriental.com/Atlanta Luxury hotel packages start at $295.
For more info on the Mandarin Oriental hotel group see our prior coverage of the hotel: www.luxecrush.com/buzz/article/speaking-mandarin