The rich heritage of St. Regis informs every touch across every address. It is, quite simply, the very essence of the St. Regis brand. Cherished traditions such as fresh flowers, afternoon tea service and midnight supper are carried out as flawlessly today as they were a century ago under the discerning eye of Lady Astor.
Likewise, the art of sabering a bottle of champagne is still practiced by the St. Regis Butler, and cognac and hand-rolled cigars remain an after dinner staple. The Bloody Mary, a signature cocktail of St. Regis since it was first concocted by Fernand Petiot in the King Cole Bar and Lounge, is brought to life through new interpretations that reflect the distinct personality of each address. These time-honored traditions and countless others have helped create the air of magic and seduction sought after by guests of St. Regis.
The story of St. Regis begins at the forefront of New York’s Gilded Age, where an elite group of supremely wealthy families rose to form the country’s first aristocracy. Among them were such illustrious names as Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Rockefeller. The leaders of this new social class were the Astors, with matriarch Caroline Astor at the helm of high society. Visionary and tenacious, “The” Mrs. Astor created the first true expression of New York society by hand-selecting those with whom she associated – known as the “400.” This new experience of exclusivity made even the wealthiest and most renowned eager to become a member of her inner circle. It was at this time that Lady Astor’s son, Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, began developing a new style of luxury, focused on tangible advancements in the comforts afforded the wealthy.
These innovations were debuted inside Astor’s classic Beaux Arts landmark, The St. Regis New York, when it opened in 1904 on 55th Street and Fifth Avenue. Before his untimely demise aboard the Titanic, Astor was able to fulfill his vision of creating a hotel where gentlemen and their families could feel as comfortable as they would as guests in a private home. This was in no small part due to the acumen of Lady Astor, who helped cultivate a sense of luxury and refinement in all aspects of the hotel’s operation. Fresh flowers were brought in daily, an English-style butler and afternoon tea services were implemented and exclusive social gatherings such as a midnight supper created an air of grandeur inside the St. Regis that enthralled its guests. St. Regis ushered in a new era of lavish parties, balls and suppers – occasions previously confined to the private homes of the elite – and thus became the next social hub for years to come.
Throughout its history, St. Regis has invariably attracted the most glamorous, creative and intriguing personalities of each era. Colonel Serge Obelensky, the Russian Prince who grew up to marry Alice Astor, was associated with St. Regis for many years. Marlene Dietrich, William Paley and his wife Barbara ("Babe") lived at St. Regis, as did Salvador Dali and his wife, Gala. And actress Gertrude Lawrence instructed her agent to arrange all her press appointments at The St. Regis.
In more than a century since its inception, St. Regis has experienced remarkable growth, expanding its portfolio with hotels and resorts in such coveted locations as Singapore, London, San Francisco, Rome and Bali.