For the past several decades, Savannah, the edge of the Georgia River, which runs alongside the body of water of the same name, has been home to praline shops, souvenir shops, and bars selling neon frozen drinks. go. But hotelier Richard Kessler, who made his debut in Peach State, changed everything with a project that spanned more than five years, culminating with the opening in 2021 of the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District. It is the first of the JW Marriott brand in the city and only the second in the state.
Kessler worked with Cecil Day to open Days Inn before opening his own independent hotels, partnering with Marriott’s Autograph Collection in 2010. The company’s portfolio includes the Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah, the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine and Beaver Creek Lodge. in Colorado, as well as Grand Bohemian and Bohemian hotels across the country. Each property features luxury details such as world-class art collections, award-winning spas, and cooking schools.
Since 2012, the object of his obsession has been the abandoned 1912 town power station at the western end of the Savannah River. The chimney towers had been rusted for a long time, and plant life covered almost every surface.
“The design process was very focused, thoughtful and intensive as we wanted to respect what the site provided us with as a canvas and the history of Savannah while also introducing something truly unique,” said Diana Kessler, Director from the creation of Kessler Collection Design Studio and Kessler’s daughter-in-law.
It has become one of the city’s largest private developments, valued at $ 375 million. The neighboring Plant Riverside district has also enlarged the riverside by a quarter of a mile.
A collection worthy of a museum
The JW Marriott Savannah spans three buildings, each with its own theme, and includes 419 rooms. The Atlantic Building, opened in August 2021, has a nautical concept with a rooftop pool and bar, a concert hall and meeting space. The Three Muses has a lavish European flair with Swarovski amethyst chandeliers and pastel tones. The power station building is industrial with pops of color in the carpet and artwork. The original spaces have retained much of the same imprint, thanks to a design by Sottile & Sottile, a Savannah-based architectural firm.
What sets this hotel apart from the dozens of boutique properties and historic inns in the city is that it’s teeming with Kessler artifacts from around the world. Two massive slabs of citrine and amethyst rise above the guests entering the lobby. Even more can be found inside, enclosed in glass and lit from below. A store offers these gems for sale, should you wish to add them to your own collection. There’s also a chrome-dipped model dinosaur fossil hanging above the lobby, nicknamed Mrs. Chromina Joule, and a meteor encased in glass. Custom geode-woven rugs are placed against the reception, made of sliced pieces of amethyst, and a Big Bang-inspired light fixture, made of quartz and amethyst.
A scavenger hunt for children highlights the most interesting rooms, spread over two levels. The building’s original light switches have been preserved, placed next to museum-quality interactive panels detailing the history of the space. Upstairs is Beethoven’s Terrace, which houses a rare Bösendorfer piano, a staple of almost every Kessler property.
Inspired by nature
The jewel tones in the floors and guest rooms mimic the theme of the buildings, including the minerals on display in the powerhouse lobby and the Three Muses crystal chandeliers. The mossy green carpet is inspired by the weathered appearance of the building before the renovation and the reflection of the water.
“I took a picture of it and thought it would be a great carpet design for the hallways of our rooms and a great way to tie in the story of the Savannah River running through the historic power station before it was taken out. service, ”Kessler said. . “We are really delighted with the result, a work of art in itself. “
The bedrooms echo the geode and nature theme with bespoke headboards and malachite-inspired desk lamps. Spaces are equipped with coffeemakers, mini-fridges, plush bathrobes, and designer toiletries. Guests have access to a fitness center equipped with Peloton bikes and can book a treatment at the Poseidon Spa, another facility at Kessler Hotels.
Redefining River Street
The JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District has not only added hotel accommodations to the Savannah offering, but has also created its own entertainment district. Between the hotels and the surrounding waterfront area, there are 12 food and drink outlets, with two more along the way, offering a wide variety of cuisines.
Stone & Webster Chophouse offers classic steakhouse dishes including Japanese wagyu and decadent shell tower. There’s even a private dinner inside one of the converted fireplaces. Turbine Market and Cafe is an all-day quick service market for coffee and sandwiches. Inspired by Kessler’s travels to Africa, the Baobab Lounge features a plush crocodile above the bar and dishes such as biltong and Amarula cocktails.
At the resort, visitors can also dine on an authentic Neapolitan pizza under the murals by Atlanta artist Greg Mike, sip margaritas from the Savannah Tequila Company, or indulge in sweet treat at District Gelato. Other options include barbecue, seafood, sushi, and German dishes.
The Plant Riverside District also has two rooftop bars. Electric Moon is a fun space with a slide between levels, games like cornhole and ping-pong, and infused shots. Myrtle and Rose looks like an Alice in Wonderland themed garden party, complete with giant chess pieces and plants. It hosts a weekly jazz brunch on Sundays. Live entertainment is often offered in the square, along with daily yoga classes.
There is no doubt that the JW Marriott Savannah has changed the River Street experience for visitors and locals alike. The luxury brand‘s partnership with the Kessler Collection is perfectly united in the over-the-top hotel.
For more travel news, tips and inspiration, subscribe to Internal hookThe Journey’s weekly travel newsletter.