Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hotel Pattee - A Hidden Jem in Western Iowa

Where to start....
My wife gave me a magazine page with a hotel and spa circled. OK, I filed it and would pull it out for her birthday or anniversary or whatever. Six months later I needed a birthday gift and I found the magazine clipping. I called and made the reservation. I was asked what room I wanted and was given three options. I chose one and that was that. I never even Googled it. It would just be a weekend outing and she could have a spa experience. 
End of story... so I thought.
The hotel has a rich history that I can't go into here. The overall d├ęcor is Mission style for the lobby, dinning, library, conference and others areas on the main floor.
But that's just the start...
Every room is done to a different theme, and I don't mean that someone went to HobbyLobby or BB&Beyond and bought a bunch of junk made in China to 'theme-up' a room. The artistry and craftsmanship are uncompromising, and in many cases exquisite. Each room was designed and executed by specialist in each theme.
The hotel is a registered historic landmark, but that says nothing of the 10 million spent just for the renovation. I've done a lot of craftwork, painting and my own artwork. I looked, and looked hard, but I could not find a sign a sloppy workmanship in the Dutch themed room Jean and I stayed in. The living space was art, and well beyond just being artfully done. Not to my taste exactly, but I had to marvel at the craftsmanship. I know what it takes to be exacting, and the ambiance created by the artwork was not betrayed by disappointing sloppy technique.
The bathroom was huge and in a black, white and silver art deco style. Updated fixtures, modern shower, oversized Jacuzzi tub and nicely appointed accents like a heavy crystal ice bucket and porcelain containers for the sundries. Again, being picky, I always look at how the caulking is done in a bathroom. There really shouldn't be any actually, and I didn't find any except in the corners of the shower walls, and it was imperceptible to most people. Pipes and plumbing should never be visible and it wasn't.
There were three separate light sources in the bathroom in addition to the added touch of a hidden night light. The three switches controlled lighting for the shower, the sink and one small art deco light above the tub. It was a cool looking design made of silver and glass. I thought to myself... I bet the glass is really plastic. So I stood on the tube and taped the 'plastic'. No, it was glass and engraved with the design company's name. The best part was that it was dimmable to just the level of atmosphere you wanted to create in the bathroom.
My only reservation with the bathroom was that it was a bit hard and cold with all the tiling, and echoed, because there wasn't enough sound deadening linen or cloth accessorizing.
As mentioned, artisans were hired specifically for each room. The textiles for the Gustav Stickley room were done by Ann Chaves. We purchased a book which outlines each room and the artisans responsible for the work as well as the history of the hotel. The images in this post and the article below are from that book.

 Not only the rooms but the exterior of the hotel has many fun art touches. The image to the left is the view from the Dutch room. The Picasso-like painted steel horses stand at least ten foot tall on the roof of what may be the conference room.
There is another book dedicated just to the artwork throughout the hotel. Both books are available at the front desk. The image of the Indian below is a hand painted leather carving and embossing found in the American Indian room. There are a series of these in the dinning room along the backs of each booth (see above). These are awarding winning works of such quality I've never seen. The three dimensional look goes even further in the large pieces in the booths. It was quite a pleasure having your breakfast or dinner in a place where there are so many nuisances to observe. A feast for the eye and mind to wonder at, adding to the overall dinning experience.
I would have loved to have the opportunity to photograph the whole hotel. The book does a very good job pictorially, though I would quibble with the exposure level of some of the shots and the color balance may be off just a bit to towards the red.
Two more rooms are pictured below. The stark differences in design obviously reflect their Japanese and American Indian origins.
The hotel also contains a spa and a bowling ally! I was tempted to put on some bowling shoes, but doubted that they would have a pair of size 13 double wide for me.
There is also an outside courtyard where a great variety of musical guest play during the week and weekends.
Oh, and the food was top notch too. Jean had a steak which she says was one of the best she's ever had and she's had some of the best.
Our visit consisted of six drinks, dinner and breakfast, the spa, tip, and the room for $350! Oh, and the book too! That's a fantastic price for such a unique place. The hardest part will be deciding what room to pick the next time we go there. Perry Iowa is less than 30 minutes from Des Moines, and we plan on taking in a Des Moines venue, and then heading up to our hidden gem on future visit.