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When two cattlemen set out to build a luxury hotel in San Antonio in 1909, they had visions – not delusions – of grandeur. On Thursday night, about 106 years later in a nearly euphoric atmosphere of elegance and opulence, the St. Anthony Hotel celebrated its ribbon cutting and grand reopening. If B.L. Naylor and A.H. Jones were alive to see their dream today, they may well have looked at the gathered masses and said, “Told you so.”
Hundreds of guests, including former Mayor Lila Cockrell and City Manager Sheryl Sculley, swarmed downtown Thursday evening to witness the grand reopening celebration at the St. Anthony. Perfect weather set the tone for the evening, which began with a Grand Sabrage Ceremony. Members of the hotel’s ownership and management team, along with other dignitaries, were on stage for opening remarks.
“Being the first luxury hotel in San Antonio is not a laurel that we take lightly,” said Brandon Raney, CEO and co-founder of BC Lynd Hospitality, which owns the St. Anthony Hotel. “When our team first set out to restore this gorgeous 106-year-old property, our goal was to do more than just restore a building. We set out to restore the St. Anthony’s status as the premiere destination in the Alamo City.”
Raney’s business partner, Clyde Johnson IV, chief information officer of BC Lynd, spoke of the hotel’s storied past, and what it has meant to generations of San Antonians. He became emotional as he spoke of his family’s support as he worked to make the St. Anthony the crown jewel of the city once again.
“My first memory of the hotel is having lunch with my grandfather at the coffee shop,” Johnson said. “I remember walking through Peacock Alley and being mesmerized by how huge and impressive it was. I was five or six at the time and the hotel left a lasting impression on me. I vividly remember that first impression and what it meant to me when I walk the halls to this day.”
The St. Anthony is a Luxury Collection Hotel, part of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. It is now one of 17 distinctive and diverse properties in North America – hotels that highlight local, authentic experiences. Johnson called the St. Anthony a “perfect fit” in this group.
Hoyt Harper II, senior vice president of Brand Management for Starwood and global brand leader for The Luxury Collection portfolio, was also on hand for the ceremony. He said that he had the best job in the world, being able to work with exceptional destinations for distinctive travelers.
Former Mayor Cockrell spoke of her memories attending weddings and receptions at the hotel, and also being a guest speaker at countless luncheons. As president of the San Antonio Parks Foundation, Cockrell helped bring Jazz’SAlive to Travis Park, which is referred to as the hotel’s front yard. City Manager Sculley, who marked 10 years in that position this month, also spoke during the reopening ceremony.
After the remarks, various members of City leadership and the hotel’s ownership team took scissors in hand to cut the ribbon at the front entrance. The ribbon, carpet, and numerous elements in the hotel held the distinctive “Dorothy Draper green” color. Draper was a renowned New York decorator who oversaw the renovation of the hotel in the 1950s. The bright shade of green was her favorite color and she infused it throughout the property. It has become even more prominent with the latest renovation.
Guests then moved inside for drinks and hors d’oeuvres in various areas throughout the hotel, including Peacock Alley, the St. Anthony Club, the Draper Room, the Cascade Room on the 6th floor just off the hotel’s infinity pool, and the St. A Sky Terrace on the 10th floor. A celebration followed in the Anacacho Ballroom and Peraux Room.
Gaylon Finklea Hecker, author of “Dusting Off A Legend: The St. Anthony Hotel,” watched the celebration unfold and remarked, “San Antonio knows how to throw a party.”
*Top image: A bartender sets up before the ribbon cutting ceremony at the St. Anthony Hotel. Photo by Annette Crawford.