The Ambassador Hotel

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The Ambassador Hotel: Enjoying A Renaissance of Style and Spirit
BY M. J. VAN DEVENTER

The vintage Osler Building in mid-town Oklahoma City has a new personality, thanks to a dramatic renovation that has made it a popular setting for urban entertaining.

Built in three phases, beginning in 1928, the seven-story, U-shaped building flourished for years as commercial office space and a medical arts center, thriving near its proximity to St. Anthony Hospital.

As times changed, doctors sought more modern facilities and the building became less attractive for business space. For a while, the owner converted the spacious seventh floor to his residence.

In 2011, Paul Coury, a commercial developer, saw beyond the building’s derelict condition and purchased the structure for his Ambassador Hotel Collection. In 2012, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the best Oklahoma City example of Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival architecture on a multi-story office building.

In late March of this year, the entire renovation project received approval from the Technical Preservation Services branch of the National Park Service as a Certified Preservation Tax Credit project.

Coury was well-versed in turning ailing structures into Cinderellas. He had successfully transformed a similar mid-town property in Tulsa in the early 1990s.

That Ambassador Hotel is now one of Tulsa’s landmark boutique mid-town hotels.

REVIVAL OF STYLE

Oklahoma City’s 54-room Ambassador Hotel, which opened in March, is a luxury property that has a distinct European feeling with its sleek décor complementing the eclectic Mediterranean-Spanish-style exterior.

From the first greeting in the small tastefully appointed lobby to a beautifully served luncheon, any occasion is memorable.

Hotel manager Jeff Erwin often gives tours to various groups in the seventh floor board room. That room seats 70, and boasts of a spectacular view of downtown from the seventh floor and its small outside balcony.

The seventh floor also features the sleek and trendy rooftop O’Bar, also offering a stunning view of the city’s skyline. The interior designer, Deborah Gear, said, “I set out to create a chic contemporary vibe, while maintaining a strong appeal to all ages.”

Leather sofas and lounge chairs offer intimate seating for small and large parties.

For the more social clientele, the central horizontal bar is the place for meeting and greeting old and new friends. The sweeping vista offers a panoramic view.

The main dining room on the ground floor includes a beautiful, quiet setting for a cozy breakfast or lunch or an intimate dinner.

“I wanted to create a charming, romantic feeling,” said Gear, owner of Deborah Gear Interior Design Studio in Los Angeles. “The restaurant entrance ceiling is barrel shaped with a fine wine display and a vintage wine cart used as the hostess stand. Plantation shutters and banquet seating line the perimeter of the restaurant. The central dining area is defined with candlelit floor to ceiling room dividers, drapery panels and vintage black and gold pendant lighting.”

In the lobby, the color palette of ivory and black has accents of burnt orange, punctuated with black plantation shutters and a warm neutral color you won’t find anyplace else – “Thunder” gray.

Distressed wood floors with hand-tufted wool and silk area rugs add luster and softness to the lobby.

“I wanted the hotel to make guests feel like they are stepping into a friend’s home – comfortable and cozy with a sophisticated ambiance,” Gear said. “The lobby is just that with the fireplace taking center stage to an intimate, conversational seating area.”

Throughout the hotel and guest suites, Gear said her goal was “to create a modern, urban boutique experience, while maintaining the historical presence of the existing architecture. I wanted intimate and classic interior spaces to appeal to both business and leisure clientele.”

CLASSY SLEEP

Six room styles are available at the Ambassador with 11 different layouts. Accommodations include classy one-bedroom settings with either a king or queen bed. The deluxe Ambassador Suite features a large living room, separate bedroom and one and a half baths. This suite offers two spectacular downtown views and is perfect a honeymoon, wedding anniversary or other special occasion.

“The guest rooms and Ambassador Suite are vey much residential in feeling with all the amenities of home,” Gear said. “The monochromatic color palette of taupe, gray and cream, with custom-designed furnishings and lighting creates a soft and inviting environment.”

Gear chose floor lamps that bear a striking resemblance to Oklahoma oil derricks. She placed streamlined televisions on easels. Other accessories have a nautical theme, and all furnishings are designed for soothing, relaxing comfort.

Wall accessories include etchings, floral prints and paintings, enhancing the rooms with a sophisticated English touch. Coury enlisted Arden and Associates, owned by Nedra Funk of Piedmont, to find perfect art for each room. Her associate, Cindy Bench, chose art that added a soft gentle touch to the chic spirit in the elegant guest suites and some of the public areas.

DESIGN PERKS

The bathrooms are appointed with porcelain floors and wall tiles, granite countertops with exquisite chrome plated fixtures, created by the international artisans at Restoration Hardware, or RH.

Catherine Montgomery, a member of the American Institute of Architects and founder of the OKC Preservation and Design Studio, said she sought to meet the challenge of the boutique hotel style with a few special features for some of the rooms, including a reading nook for the rooms on the northwest corner.

“Each room has an interesting entrance foyer,” she said. “The arrangement of the rooms in relation to the existing window locations also makes each room a unique experience. Some rooms are bursting with sunshine and others are like intimate dens – there’s something for every taste.”

Among other amenities in all rooms are complimentary wireless internet, Keurig coffee makers, in-room safes, executive-style work spaces, monogrammed robes, and couture bath products.

Other services include parking and laundry valets, room service, a 24-hour front desk, on-site fitness center, pool and outdoor terrace with bar and food service.

Another plus is the hotel’s complimentary shuttle service for travel within a three-mile radius, lessening any need for a long taxi wait or driving in unfamiliar territory. The hotel is fully handicapped accessible. It is also one of the few pet-friendly hotels in OKC.

Gear has served as interior designer for Coury’s hotel projects for the past four years, designing Ambassador Hotels in Kansas City, Wichita, Tulsa and now Oklahoma City.

Montgomery specializes in historic projects, along with her staff of other architects, interior designers and historic preservation specialists. They sought to keep the historic areas of the hotel and its façade true to their original architectural origins.

Erwin brings a distinguished resume to his position of general manager. A native of North Carolina, he moved from New York City to Oklahoma in 1994 to serve on the executive staff of The Waterford Hotel from 1994 to 2000. He was director of Oklahoma’s State Parks for several years and joined Paul Coury and his staff in 2007 at downtown’s revitalized Colcord Hotel. Erwin came to The Ambassador in 2013, getting the hotel ready for its recent opening.

Erwin’s mission at The Ambassador is simple.

“We want to make our guests feel more at home here than in any other hotel,” said Erwin.

For more information on the hotel, located at 1200 North Walker Avenue, booking or reservation information, call 405 600 6200. The hotel’s email address is okconcierge@ambassadorhc.com

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