LEO A DALY’s Diplomat Beach Resort channels breezy, mid-century hospitality

A $100-million reinvention of the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida, reconnects the iconic resort to its fashionable roots. Hospitality Design interviewed Kathy Chavez about LEO A DALY’s role on the project, which included a gut-renovation of public spaces, an indoor-outdoor bar, and two new restaurant concepts.

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Excerpted from the article:

During its midcentury heyday, the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida played host to performers Lawrence Welk, Judy Garland, and Liza Minnelli. Then came the financial hardships, followed by its conversion into a Westin. Shai Zelering, managing director and head of asset management for Thayer Lodging, Brookfield Hotel Properties, however, had a more ambitious plan for the historic property.

Now rechristened as the Diplomat Beach Resort (thanks to an investment of $100 million), the 1,000-room hotel is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. Zelering turned to Boston’s Korn Design to help conceptualize the overall vision, as well as Montague, Massachusetts-based Howard Wein Hospitality to bring numerous F&B experiences to life.

Korn Design principal Denise Korn says the project’s mission is less about recreating the old Diplomat than channeling its spirit. “When the property launched, everyone wanted to put it in a bucket like the Fontainebleau as one of these retro, glorious, Art Deco properties brought back to life. My feeling about the Diplomat is that its story has a lot more integrity, and only an inspiration for what was built now. It’s not a literal rebirth of what it used to be.”

Capturing the Diplomat’s connection to the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway is the Hotel Bar, the handiwork of LEO A DALY. Kathy Chavez, senior associate and team leader, says that transforming the volume of the multistory atrium’s first floor was a challenge, yet cabanas and a lush landscape helped create an intimate “sense of indoor-outdoor ambiguity where guests meander through tropical vignettes.”

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The existing lobby had the look and feel of a South Florida mall, Chavez points out. To elicit more nostalgic glamour, the team opted for a porcelain tile that calls to mind wooden boardwalks, teak, and brightly colored handmade rugs. The Hotel Bar in the multistory atrium is peppered with tropical vignettes for a more intimate feel, while the space’s window wall cuts through the indoor-outdoor bar.

At grab-and-go Canteen, “the feel is a mom and pop market inspired by outdoor food stands in upscale beach communities back in the ’50s and ’60s,” she says, pointing out the use of turquoise weathered wood and handpainted tiles.

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