Before travel and life as we know it came to a screeching halt, visitors to San Francisco International Airport experienced a huge new undertaking anchored by its ground-up, $237-million Grand Hyatt. The only hotel on site, it rises 12 stories, contains 351 rooms—22 of them suites—and provides two levels of meeting and event spaces among myriad amenities such as food and beverage options, a fitness center, a club room, and a knock-out art program curated by the San Francisco Arts Commission. Another perquisite is the air tram connecting the hotel to all airport terminals. Architecture is by Hornberger + Worstell with ED2 International as associates. Interiors are by BraytonHughes Design Studios, led by principals Joel Villalon and Kiko Singh, for guest quarters and public spaces, while RoseBernard Studio designed food and beverage components.
For those arriving by air tram, introduction to the Grand Hyatt comes via a station that’s really an ante-lobby, made vibrant with an expansive stained-glass window. Guests then cross a bridge and come to the main lobby, its window walls overlooking runways for jumbo jets. Several design elements recall aerodynamic influences, such as a pair of marble reception desks that taper to a sleek point, Tahiti Pehrson’s ethereal, hand-cut paper work—Circadian Transit—suspended from the double-height ceiling, and a triple-sided fireplace separating check-in from lounge zones.
While airport travel and the check-in procession feature copious amounts of glass and hard surfaces, the lounge presents another vibe entirely, according to Villalon: “It’s about slowing down mentally and emotionally.” Adds Singh: “The palette gets warmer and less frenetic.” Ergo a walnut-framed tête-à-tête, a live-edge communal table, brass floor lamps and occasional tables, and a custom rug interpreting a wood-grain pattern.
Before proceeding to accommodations, guests experience a ‘wow’ moment from another grand artwork. Ellen Harvey’s Green Map mosaic depicts an aerial view of the Bay Area, its parks and rec areas rendered in green. The piece overlooks the stair leading to second-floor events spaces, including a pre-function corridor with more commissioned art and a full-fledged board room replete with custom live-edge table and a lighting fixture composed of translucent glass strips.
Upstairs, all guest rooms boast full-height windows accessing views of either runways or San Francisco’s distant hills. Most spectacular, of course, is the presidential suite. It’s a complete residential package encompassing a living cum dining area, full bath and powder rooms, and a bedroom that looks as if it could be in the center of a flight path. Meanwhile, the executive suite is right up there in the luxury quotient, too. BraytonHughes Design Studios wanted it to appear decidedly modern, and their custom furnishings made it so.