HOLLYWOOD, FL—Summoning sand and surf, Curio Collection’s Diplomat Beach Resort shines brightly after a comprehensive revamp by Leo A Daly.
Designers Kathy A. Chavez and Lara A. Rimes were brought on by the owners to take the property from dated to present day with a distinct sense of place. Being a beachfront property, the planned design scheme was a no-brainer and an opportunity to take bold risks to bring forward a whole new aesthetic.
“They had a lobby space that felt like you’re in a mall or office building instead of a resort hotel,” said Chavez. “The big picture was to take this lobby and turn it into a resort hotel, and that involved looking back at the history and working with a branding group to create a new story of what the Diplomat would be.”
Upon entering, guests are transported to an exotic location. “The hotel’s beach location was most inspiring, and the location was amazing, but the hotel wasn’t that inspiring,” said Rimes. “We had those kinds of challenges to work with, and we knew we could get where we wanted to be to get the client’s vision across. It’s an amazing beach destination and we wanted to bring back that spirit of old Hollywood, FL.”
The hotel’s original canvas included a variety of elements, including numerous water features and black-and-white marble; it lacked a sense of place. Chavez and Rimes researched the history of the area as a celebrity hot spot and took that inspiration as a jumping off point.
A strong F&B presence was on the client’s wish list, so Chavez and Rimes sought to realize this goal through different elements in the lobby. “The volume of the space had to be addressed. With the original F&B, you’d wait in line to get anything and they didn’t have enough. The client was looking, from a functional standpoint, to use the lobby as the next great F&B venue and achieve the look through a complete revamp of all the materials and the creation of an indoor-outdoor lobby that frames the view out to the ocean.”
For a project of this size and demand, there were bound to be challenges. According to Rimes, the indoor-outdoor bar was one of them. The existing space had three stories and a frame wall structure. They worked with various consultants for each element, including moveable accordion-style walls—called Nana walls—that would open up in the lobby.
“A second challenge, we were working with consultants and structural engineers to meet the local hurricane code,” she said. “It was the most important place to locate this bar. We also worked with a local conservation consultant to make sure we didn’t interrupt the sea turtle migration. We have sea turtle-friendly lights, so the turtles don’t mistake the lights for the moon over the ocean and go the wrong way.”
There was a lot of attention to the details on this project. Chavez explained that they spent a lot of time studying, going out to the beach and doing mock-ups and drawing lines on buildings to get it just right. “It felt rewarding to achieve what we have achieved, having all these other considerations that had to be addressed,” said Chavez.
To create an attractive lobby that exhibited a relaxed and welcoming feel, Chavez and Rimes used color to make a big impact. Beachy fabrics, seagrass and tropical prints helped to bring the outdoors into the lobby. “We designed these indoor cabanas that in a three-story space helped to make the lobby feel more intimate,” said Chavez. “It also helped to energize the lobby and give guests different seating options: a funky, cool chair in the corner to people watch or a quieter space to work on a laptop.”
Elsewhere, there were sand dunes added near the cabanas. The designers wanted guests to feel like they were outside. A tropical, lush landscape, handmade pottery and driftwood were added to really drive the beach theme home.
“We kept some of the existing stone. We also used porcelain tile in a beach wood down the center of the lobby to lead guests to an F&B venue. You’ll feel like you’re on a boardwalk with cabanas on either side to bring in the texture,” she said. “We have huge rugs—some were around the furniture and created islands of furniture. Guests can meander through the lobby; it’s very experiential for the guest.”