Developer Michael Bennett's new luxury hotel overlooking Marion Square is another sign that downtown Charleston is continuing to move upscale.
The Hotel Bennett is set open next fall, according to an announcement last week by the management company, Salamander Hotels & Resorts. It's aimed at the upper crust of visitors, with the 179 guest rooms starting at $500 to $600 a night, Bennett said.
Guests will experience an interesting mix of traditional, time-honored materials and the cosmopolitan look of the New South.
The bar off the lobby will be pink, including the marble floors, tabletops and bar, chairs and camellias on the walls. The ceiling is covered with etched mirrors, with a large glass chandelier in an oval inset.
“That has a very cosmopolitan feel," Bennett said. "It has a feminine touch in my mind.”
Bennett said he got the idea after a friend brought him a reproduction Faberge egg from Russia. He had been wondering how he might use the pink marble that was salvaged from the library that used to occupy the hotel site. Suddenly he visualized the pink egg lying on its side, and that was the inspiration for Camellia's.
A more neutral bar will be in the lobby, and another bar with a contemporary design is planned for the roof. A pool and cabana will also be up top.
The hotel will also have a spa, a French patisserie and a variety of shops and meeting spaces.
The more traditional materials include limestone, marble, bronze, copper and cypress.
"You can't build a 5-star hotel with 3-star materials," Bennett said last week. "This will be the 5-star luxury hotel in downtown Charleston. I believe it will be finest hotel ever built in our city, certainly ever built in my lifetime.”
The Dewberry, a nearby hotel that opened this spring across from Marion Square on Meeting Street, is also aiming at the 5-star designation. Its rooms start around $400 on weekends.
When plans for Bennett Hotel were first announced almost 10 years ago, Marion Square was the northern edge of what's happening in Charleston. Since then, King Street has been undergoing a major revitalization that puts Marion Square more in the center of the action.
Hyatt House and the adjoining Hyatt Place opened on upper King, between Cannon and Spring streets, in 2015, and a smaller lodging is being built directly across the street. Plans for another King Street hotel between Morris and Radcliffe streets have been approved.
Bennett has been a major figure in Charleston's hotel industry since opening the nearby Hampton Inn on Meeting Street in 1992. His Bennett Hospitality also owns the Embassy Suites on Marion Square, which opened in 1996, and numerous restaurants in the area, including Virginia's on King and 39 Rue de Jean.