Though this is the seventh property that Michael Fuerstman has opened, he admits there is something extra special about being in Baltimore.
“Last night I was having cocktails at Waterfront and I was watching people peer through the glass and look at the hotel across the street,” says Fuerstman, co-founder of Pendry Hotels. “You can feel the buzz in the air.”
As the $60 million Sagamore Pendry Hotel gets ready to debut to the public, there is a lot for local residents to ponder. A building that was abandoned for two decades is now home to a gleaming, four-star hotel, thanks to Fuerstman’s Pendry group and Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Development Co.
“Much of our job has been getting out of the way to let this amazing building speak for itself,” Fuerstman says. Here are some of our favorite details that do just that.
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Though it was out of use for decades, the Recreation Pier of course served many functions throughout history. Most notably, it was a landing point for thousands of new immigrants who arrived in American for the first time at Locust Point.
“The fact that this was an immigrant processing station is pretty incredible,” Fuerstman says. “We’re honored to know that this is where people became American citizens.”
In fact, history will speak through nearly every surface of the hotel, from the original 1914 floors in the ballroom to the laser-cut lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the wall of the entrance.
The construction team—quite literally—stumbled upon some buried treasure.
“One of my favorite stories is while we were rebuilding the pier, the team kept hitting some immovable objects, three different times,” Fuerstman says. “Turns out, these were cannons that date back to the 1700s. Europeans would come here and need to make room on their ships for more goods and dumped them overboard. We found three of them, which leads me to wonder just how many more cannons are out here There's potentially a whole graveyard of cannons.”
Guests can see the cannons for themselves, as two of them stand sentinel by the pool entrance and the other is enclosed in glass on the floor of the hotel’s whiskey bar.
-Courtesy of Sagamore Pendry
Small but mighty.
Aptly named the Cannon Room, the hotel’s whiskey bar is about as intimate as it gets—with just 20 seats in total. The entire room is designed to feel like the inside of a booze barrel with wood curvature and steel wrap on the ceilings.
The standard guest rooms are intimate, too. But that’s also the idea. Part of Pendry’s vision was for each room to feel like an elegant captain’s berth, channeled by local designer Patrick Sutton’s use of mahogany and brass.
“These rooms are floating on a pier over water,” Fuerstman says. “Typically, that makes you think of a bungalow in the Maldives, but you’re right in the heart of a city.”
Let there be light.
From the outside, it might be hard to tell that there's a giant open-air courtyard in the middle of the hotel, which allows for light and greenery in an area that might have otherwise been closed off.
In addition, Sutton and his team paid attention to light in all ways: the exterior lighting from the building's facade, the illuminated carpet on the stairs leading into the ballroom, and preserving and updating the original windows.
"We wanted to keep the feel of the hotel, and especially the ballroom, like the early 1900s," Fuerstman says. "Details like the window panes really make it shine."
Fittingly, there are plenty of nods to Sagamore's horse-racing ties, including a giant horse sculpture in the courtyard and plaster horses in every guest room that appear to be protruding out of the walls.
"We want to celebrate all of the cool aspects that make Baltimore a great American city," Fuerstman says. "So you'll see tons of nautical, industrial, and equestrian elements throughout."
In Baltimore, we’re still not very used to feeling fancy. The Four Seasons was a big step for us. But now we have another infinity-edge pool to add to our list at the back-end of the pier, which conveniently looks straight across to the Under Armour sign. The bars on the pool deck will be housed in shipping containers and nearby there's also a private boat dock
"I see the pool deck as very Montauk meets Baltimore with oysters and crabs and buckets of beer," Fuerstman says.
Keeping the character of Baltimore intact was important to the hotel owners, hence keeping the “City Pier Baltimore” sign that’s visible from the back of the building. Homicide fans will recognize the set's police entrance that leads guests into the ballroom.
But maybe one of our favorite local nods is right at the entrance, where guests can sit on some outdoor furniture, nurse their drinks, and watch the world go by. They’re calling it The Stoop.
“We have a huge responsibility to honor the city of Baltimore and get it right,” Fuerstman says. “We are really trying to embrace that.”