Fairmont Unveils Its Largest Hotel in the U.S. in Austin

By Trish Donnally Public Relations Manager, Perkins Eastman | March 18, 2018

The soaring new Fairmont Austin, with its ethereal blue/grey curtain wall, is a game changer. In addition to being Austin's largest hotel with 1,048 guest rooms, it is also Fairmont's largest property in the United States, and its second largest hotel globally. Gensler, the master planner, site planner, and architect, was challenged by developer Manchester Texas Financial Group with creating a hotel that would surpass anything previously found in the city.

"When designing the exterior of the new Fairmont Austin, Gensler and Manchester envisioned an iconic, experientially excellent, smart, sustainable, world class hotel. We saw it as a pursuit of simplicity, to give order to a complex program of spaces and needs. This clarity gives the guest a place of sanctuary from the modern world," said David Epstein, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Principal/Design Director at Gensler, who led the design of the Fairmont Austin.

"Our family has trusted Art Gensler and his team for many years in delivering the highest water marks in architectural design," said Douglas W. Manchester, president of Manchester Texas Financial Group, developer and owner of Fairmont Austin. "We approached Fairmont Austin as a genuine opportunity to introduce a timeless and iconic design to Austin's skyline. The quality and sophistication of their curtain wall design along with the curved glass surrounding the podium has a perfect juxtaposition of elegance and progressive style. A design that honors the history and welcomes in a new era. We couldn't be prouder of the finished product. It is indeed timeless."

The graceful luxury hotel, which opened March 5, 2018 in time for the SXSW Conference and Festivals, already holds a commanding presence in Austin as the second tallest building in the city at 590 feet. With nothing around it even close to that tall, it owns its place in the sky too. The 37-story tower projects a mysterious, ephemeral quality, reflecting drifting cumulus clouds and everchanging light from sunrise to sunset. At times, it seems to become almost one with the wide-open Texas sky.

"The new Fairmont acts as a gateway to Austin and a direct addition to the (Neal Kocurek Memorial Austin) Convention Center," Epstein said.

Thomas Phifer and Partners of New York and Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates designed an undulating elevated walk that directly connects Fairmont Austin to the convention center. Guests traverse beneath canopies of carefully preserved mature trees, including two American elms, a pecan, and a box elder along the walk. San Francisco-based Warren Sheets Design Inc. designed the interiors of the Fairmont Austin blurring the boundaries between indoors and outdoors by bringing life-size trees into the lobbies and lounge, among other design gestures, while dwg. designed the exterior landscaping honoring the critical ecosystem of nearby Waller Creek.

The new Fairmont Austin, with a spire that can change up to 15 million colors, acts as a gateway to the city and features a curtain wall that reflects the Texas sky from sunrise to sunset.
The architecture of the Fairmont Austin, designed by Gensler, includes exquisite curved glass on the corner of the podium and was sited to face Waller Creek and Palm Park.
The high-performance glass on the exterior of the new Fairmont Austin, the largest Fairmont in the U.S., reflects everchanging light, shadows, clouds, and sunshine.
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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.