Corner Culture: The Pearl Hotel
Stellar architecture, art and interior design make this new boutique hotel a Gulf Coast true gem, worthy of its name.
- by Kim Ranjbar
- photos by Ellis Anderson and Rick Dobbs, courtesy of The Pearl Hotel
“Mike Cure approached us several years ago about developing a hotel in this location,” says Gabriel Virdure, Associate at Trapolin-Peer. “He thought it would be a good spot for a hotel, and that there was a need for it.”
Following concept approval in 2017 by the Bay St. Louis Historic Commission, construction began on the new building in late 2018.
With a long family history rooted deep in the local oyster industry, Cure wanted the hotel to reflect that particular aesthetic.
“The color palette has blues and greens; it's sort of speaking to the bay,” says Blake Kidder, an architect at Trapolin-Peer who also worked on the project. “There are a lot of tactile tiles reminiscent of water and effervescence, and the sheen from the inside of an oyster shell on the fixtures.”
In addition to the pearlescent quality of the oysters themselves, they also speak to the industry’s difficult work, the rough textures of the boats and the wood, and the tools used to harvest the Gulf's favorite mollusk.
“It’s hard, it’s industrial, but there are also these really beautiful, iridescent pieces as well,” says Virdure.
The architects worked in close coordination with Barrett Design Studio, an interior designer out of Jackson, Mississippi, to develop the desired ambiance in the lobby and other public spaces on the ground floor.
Keeping in mind the reality of harsh weather coming up from the Gulf, the entire bottom floor, or the first 16 feet, is all “hardened construction,” meaning that everything structural is made with concrete. They've also added planters and sand pavers around the perimeter of the building that will capture excess water. From the second floor up to the fourth, they employed more traditional wood construction.
When appreciating the new building on the corner of North Beach and Main, the most prominent features are the sidewalk galleries and deep balconies on the floors above. Unique to the boulevard, the gallery spills out onto the sidewalk, directly engaging pedestrians with the building regardless of whether or not they are guests of the hotel.
“Bay St. Louis has its own unique aesthetic, and we've created this infill to engage the urban fabric that's starting to develop in the downtown area,” says Kidder. “I think we were really successful in being sensitive... not destroying what was there, but adding to it... adding to the ambiance of this destination spot.”
Also, it seems the views of the town and marina from the balconies are not to be missed.
“I'm really excited about the second-floor corner balconies,” says Virdure. “Anyone who is out there will enjoy them. You'll want to sit out there with a glass of wine and watch what everyone else is doing on the boulevard.”
Guests with suites facing the opposite direction will enjoy a view of the second-floor courtyard and pool replete with lush plants and plenty of lounging opportunities. A large hospitality suite on that level designated for private dinners or events can also be used in conjunction with the courtyard.
To fully realize The Pearl Hotel's concept, Cure Land Company hired New Orleans branding agency Unreal headed by award-winning principal and creative director Rick Dobbs. Striking photography by Dobbs, focusing on the oyster industry, is found throughout the hotel.
The agency contracted “classic realist” artist Billy Solitario to create several of the lobby's main paintings, featuring the flora and fauna of the marsh and oyster beds. Prints of his paintings adorn many rooms, while a showstopper in the lobby depicts two of the Cure flagships at work in the gulf.
In addition to a cozy lobby that evokes the feeling of a “home-away-from-home,” the ground floor also has three commercial occupants.
There’s the sleek Hinge bar open Tuesday through Sunday. A barbeque spot, Smoke, and a new upscale Southern seafood restaurant, The Thorny Oyster, are both headed up by chef Jeffrey Hansell. Hansell grew up in Waveland and made a regional name for himself at his popular restaurant Oxlot 9 in Covington.
Visit the Pearl’s website to make reservations.
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