The floods of 2002 were a blessing in disguise for Guillermo Olivares, general manager of Hotel President. The hotel was badly damaged and had to close for repairs. Olivares took advantage of the opportunity to completely refurbish the interior.
“”We are a new hotel inside an old building,”” he boasts.
When Olivares came to Prague in 1997 to run the Hotel President, it was classified as a 4-star property. But that wasn’t quite accurate.
“”It was a 4-star from 1993,”” he says. “”But not in 1997. There was no air-conditioning, no Internet, and the equipment and the look were from the ’70s.””
The hotel was so old that the infrastructure had to be updated: plumbing, the electric system, even support pillars. Olivares took nearly two years to oversee an extensive reconstruction that cost 9.4 million euros.
“”I had in mind a proper 5-star hotel,”” he says. “”Two reasons: Due to its location, and my view that Prague would be a high-demand destination for business travelers.””
Due to the building’s configuration, most of the rooms have different designs and layouts. Some are wide, while others are long and narrow, with total sizes varying from 32 to 42 square meters. Olivares estimates 85% of the rooms have a “”magnificent view.”” That’s particularly true of rooms facing the Vltava River and Letná Park, which offers lush green scenery. Ten of the rooms on the executive floor boast terraces.
Along with re-decorating the rooms, Olivares took the opportunity to rearrange parts of the hotel.
“”The casino used to be where the lobby bar is now,”” he explains. “”We moved it to the back of the hotel where there had been offices.””
Olivares also moved the restaurant, bar and conference rooms from the fifth floor to the first. “”It doesn’t make sense to go into a hotel and up the elevator to the restaurant or meeting rooms,”” he says. “”Plus, we were able to add 30 rooms.””
The lobby lounge and bar area is dominated by wood, rusts and beiges. Mother-of-pearl lamp shades, recessed lighting and strategically placed pillars give the space a look of muted warmth. Big, comfy couches welcome you to the lounge area, which is dominated at one end by a grand piano, and at the other by a large horseshoe-shaped bar. Hanging above the bar are squares of stained glass, which add a modern touch to what is otherwise a classic look.
Upstairs, because of the variety of room configurations, each floor has a unique look. “”The second floor windows aren’t as big,”” says Olivares. “”We wanted a design that was light and welcoming.””
This was achieved by pairing shades of red with golden hues. The brick coloring gives the rooms a warm, welcoming feel, while the yellows brighten the atmosphere during Prague’s long, dark winters.
A different approach was taken on the third and fourth floors. “”These floors have modern colors,”” explains Olivares. “”The rooms have larger windows, so we wanted to be a bit bolder.””
The designers introduced green shades into the third floor, which gives the rooms an earthy glow. Shades of red, including variations of rust and brick, dominate the fourth floor.
The fifth floor is where Olivares decided he really wanted to make a splash. “”I wanted to create an executive floor with novel coloring,”” he says. “”We considered several proposals on carpets, bedspreads, etc. After several samples, I decided on a noble color, one that is easy and relaxing.””
That noble color is blue, and Olivares used a variety of shades ranging from navy to cornflower to get a rich but relaxed look. Shades of green-blue and turquoise are mixed in, and mauves and yellows enhance the glow.
Certain themes resonate through all the rooms. Warm-colored wood furniture is used throughout, creating a simple complement to whichever color scheme it’s supporting. Hourglass-shaped lamps, both bedside and on the floor, add another elegant, understated touch.
Even the curtains add a distinctive note, in their own quiet way. “”They are sand-colored, in between beige and cream,”” says Olivares.
In the end, all the individual touches added up to just what Olivares had in mind. “”I believe the whole look [of the hotel now] is a noble and classical design,”” he says.