The historic Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park officially opened its doors Wednesday, June 17, with local officials and hotel staff cutting the gold ribbon.
“Today marks a very special day for The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park,” said General Manager Wolfgang Jonas. “The hotel has undergone an incredible transformation that seamlessly melds our rich history with modern luxurious touches to create an entirely new experience. There is truly something for everyone here, and we are so proud to play an integral role in the revitalization of downtown El Paso.”
Originally, the hotel opened its doors in November 1930 as the El Paso Hilton. It was the ninth and tallest hotel in Conrad Hilton’s fledgling chain. The hotel notably served as the corporate headquarters well into the 1940s for what would later become the global Hilton empire.
The building was the last major design commission for Henry C. Trost – who designed an Art Deco hotel tower crowned with a Ludowici clay tile pyramidal roof for Hilton that would hold the place as El Paso’s tallest skyscraper for 24 years – forever changing the city’s skyline.
The hotel’s Pueblo Deco influence is seen throughout the hotel’s interiors as modern luxury is balanced with West Texas surrealist artistry and nods to the past. Upon entering the newly created lobby and library space, designed by ForrestPerkins, guests will encounter stately wooden curios and an expansive collection of books, photos and relics.
Crafted to be an extension of El Pasoans’ living rooms, the space has an artisan quality with a stately fireplace that is framed by rich tan leather and mohair seating, sleek marble tables, and teardrop chandeliers hung from floating Mahogany clouds.
At the heart of the lobby-level is Ámbar Restaurante led by Executive Chef Andres Padilla, who brings his mastery of regional Mexican cuisine to El Paso. A spectacular 40-foot-tall glowing amber glass and polished stainless steel wall captures the imagination as it showcases the sumptuous bar area and the restaurant’s vast tequila collection.
Within this space, guests and patrons are greeted by the reinstated double-height atrium, previously enclosed during a mid-century renovation, as well as dramatic stained glass, skylights, wood beams, decorative stenciling and an original railing on the historic staircase connecting the first and second levels.
In areas where the original terra cotta tile flooring was missing and not able to be preserved, The Johnson Studio at COOPER CARRY used concrete flooring to create a layered texture, putting the building’s authentic character on display. Gleaning insight from newspaper stories and photographs published around the hotel’s first public opening, the design reinterprets many of the original elements with custom light fixtures, materials and color choices, choosing a palette of rich walnut wood, velvet and mohair fabrics, warm brass metals and hand tooled leather to create a social atmosphere in the atrium.
Adjacent to the bar, Ámbar’s exposed theater kitchen concept is centered on the fire-blazing hearth and lends itself to an immersive dining experience where guests can enjoy the excitement of the preparation process.
Chef Padilla makes a conscious effort to support the boutique, family-run farms and makers in Mexico, and the menu features centuries-old Mexican recipes with a regionally driven twist that are served in a family-style approach. The restaurant highlights sipping tequilas and mezcals as well as rare Mexican spirits like komil and pulque.
The wine list boasts an extensive collection of Mexican wines, emphasizing the New World white wines emerging from south of the border.
Located on the 17th floor, La Perla is the crowning rooftop bar and restaurant in the former penthouse suite where actress Elizabeth Taylor lived during her marriage to Nicky Hilton.
Designed by The Johnson Studio at COOPER CARRY, pockets of indoor and outdoor space allow for intimate gatherings within a multitude of distinct backgrounds. White marble, bright florals and mirror-polished steel are contrasted with and pops of jewel tones to add a distinctly invigorating freshness to the experience.
With panoramic views of El Paso, Mexico and beyond, the North Terrace offers tiered seating and built-in garden planters. La Perla is currently available for private events, and it will open to the public this fall.
Designed by ForrestPerkins, The Plaza’s guest rooms and suites showcase a modern, luxurious design incorporating playful use of textures, colors and historic references that draw inspiration from the Pueblo Deco architecture and the landscape of West Texas.
Local influences can be found in the artwork, materials and rich colors like burgundy, cream and champagne at every angle. Beds are draped in Matouk linens, each with a channel-tufted headboard as its focal point and offset by Deco-inspired wool rugs and seating areas featuring a 1930s-style fitted cigar chair with Macassar ebony insets.
Guest amenities include a complimentary alkaline water program, Nespresso machine, and Tivoli audio system.
Bathrooms are layered in rich color and texture with highlights including caffe bruno marble tile flooring, Calcutta vanity tops and champagne-colored brushed metals. The custom wall tile is designed to mimic the wind-blown patterns seen in the West Texas sands, and each bathroom is equipped with luxurious Le Labo bath amenities, Waterworks bathroom accessories and plush Matouk bathrobes and towels.
The Plaza offers nearly 7,600 square feet of meeting and event space punctuated by artwork by Mexican National and Texas artists such as Victoria Villasana and Ray Chiarello. Culinary options include top selections from the menus of Ámbar Restaurante and La Perla. One of the many highlights is the hotel’s historic ballroom which has been carefully preserved and the mezzanine area on the second floor, boasting 2,815 square feet of event space.
Offering views of San Jacinto Plaza and the Kress Building, the space accommodates up to 150 guests for receptions with an additional three meeting rooms ranging from 310 to 724 square feet. La Perla will also offer stunning outdoor event space totaling 4,044 square feet while Ámbar Restaurante features a 468-square-foot private dining room on its lower level.