Hotel Spero unearths history via restoration, new name
Hotel Spero unearths history via restoration, new name
21 AUGUST 2018 7:06 AM

San Francisco’s Hotel Spero, previously known as Hotel Serrano, went back to the hotel’s roots after undergoing a $16-million renovation, which restored some of the original pieces of the 95-year-old structure.

SAN FRANCISCO—After undergoing a complete $16-million restoration and a name change, Hotel Spero in San Francisco is open for business and staying true to its Spanish roots while honoring the hotel’s original owner, Lizzie Glide.

The building, which has existed under names such as The Californian and Hotel Serrano before becoming Hotel Spero, has operated as a hotel for 95 years, said Benjamin Malmquist, GM at the hotel.

Hotel Serrano spoke to the building’s Spanish roots, but Malmquist said it needed a name that honored the original owner, Glide, who was a sustainability-conscious person.

“(Glide) owned the hotel in its early days when it was the Californian, and her legacy was really making a difference in the community, in the world and … in people’s lives, and she did that through mindfulness, philanthropy and sustainability efforts,” he said.

‘Spero’ translates to hope in Latin, Malmquist said, and the hotel’s logo represents that—and Glide’s mission—by featuring two clasped hands.

“(Our logo) has an ‘S’ on it for Spero, and it’s also kind of a nod to Serrano as well, but if you look deeper into the logo, you can actually see that there are two hands kind of holding each other, and it’s like clasped hands,” he said. “And so when we take the name of Spero, meaning hope, and our logo (with) two clasped hands, that’s really in reference to the hotel’s original owner (Glide).”

The renovation
The 236-room hotel went through a top-to-bottom $16-million renovation before opening as Hotel Spero in April, which is owned by LaSalle Hotel Properties and managed by Access Hotels and Resorts.

Malmquist said he thinks of the project as a restoration rather than a renovation because the hotel worked with the local historical society to preserve some of the original pieces of the hotel. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Hotel Californian.

“As an example, in our lobby … it had a floor that was originally made of marble and travertine, and over the years that floor had been covered up …. One of the things that we did is, we wanted to see (what) the condition of the original floor (was and if it could be restored,)” he said.

“So we pulled up the carpet and found this beautiful original floor … It probably hadn’t seen the light of day in 50 to 60 years, so that’s an example of how we were able to honor the history of the hotel through the restoration process.”

Original penny tile was also found in the guestroom bathrooms, Malmquist said, which was recreated in the shower tiles in the renovated guestrooms.

Open for business
While the hotel underwent a full renovation, it stayed open throughout the process.

Malmquist said the property had a buffer floor between floors where work was being done and the floors where guests were staying.

Communication and having a team of staff that had been through renovations at previous jobs made the project successful, he said.

“What was really nice is that one, the team did really, really well in terms of making sure that the guest experience stayed whole and there was very little intrusion, and that took a lot of planning and communication to make sure that we were able to execute that well,” he said. “We had a daily meeting with the contractors that were actually doing the work and the project manager and all of the departmental managers on the hotel side to make sure everybody was on the same page.”

Malmquist said the hotel kept its same staff throughout the restoration to Hotel Spero, some of whom have worked at the hotel for approximately 40 years.

Hotel Spero continues to be a sustainable hotel and opened on Earth Day, 22 April.

“We picked 22 April as opening day because it is Earth Day, and we thought that was a really great reminder for us to do our best to be a really great partner for the world,” Malmquist said.

The hotel used sustainably sourced materials to complete the renovation, he said, and now on the day-to-day, Hotel Spero has a few initiatives in place to be maintain a focus on sustainability.

One program asks guests to forego housekeeping, and in return, guests receive a voucher to eat at the hotel’s restaurant, Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen.

Another effort is a waste diversion program.

“Our waste diversion at the property is actually at 75%,” Malmquist said. “That’s done through composting and recycling. We’re really proud of that number; we’d like to see that waste diversion number get to 100%, but 75% is really good, and we have a lot of initiatives to make sure we compost and recycle and reuse everything we can.”

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