Steal the Scene: Hotel Sorella at the Country Club Plaza is modern with a classic touch

12/31/1840 7:00 PM

06/07/2014 1:23 PM

From a distance, there’s nothing distinctive about Hotel Sorella. And there’s no clue that, when a polite doorman opens the doors to the building, the lobby will stop visitors in their tracks.

The boutique hotel on the southwest side of the Country Club Plaza is proof that great interior design can gracefully marry new and old. The modern furnishings and artwork pick up on the Plaza’s distinct architecture inspired by the Spanish city of Seville.

Todd Scholl, director of sales and marketing for the hotel, says “Sorella” is Italian for sister, and Hotel Sorella is a sister of Valencia Group’s Hotel Valencia brand.

“We think of Sorella as the hip and cool younger sister of Valencia,” Scholl says. “She has all the cool chandeliers and a great style.”

The first of many chandeliers to greet visitors is a brilliant blue-hued Murano piece in the lobby. It looks as if it would be at home in the grandest of opera houses, its blue glass radiating light across a mosaic tile floor.

Andrea Dawson Sheehan, art director and CEO of Dawson Design Associates of Seattle, says her team spent a lot of time at the Plaza to distinguish the hotel from others in the brand.

“Country Club Plaza is full of international artwork, fountains and tile work that adorns the alcoves,” Sheehan says. “Those who would, and currently do, frequent these shops were our leisure guests.”

The design team was determined to create something unique for Kansas City, she says. “We wanted something that reflected a more international aesthetic and energy, an experience that captured the flavor of a gallery or ancient Palazzo, as we created this story for Valencia’s Sorella.”

Scholl points to a modern seating area in the lobby, dominated by a huge portrait of a woman by figurative artist Sarah Atkinson.

The artist was commissioned to paint the quintessential Sorella woman, Scholl says.

“In the initial portrait, she was to be a bit sour — that younger sister look,” he says. “But that’s not how she turned out. She’s contemporary, chic and beautiful.”

In fact, Scholl says, those working at the hotel are often a bit surprised when guests gather for photos.

“We thought they’d want to be photographed with the chandelier, but in fact, probably more people want to be photographed with her,” he says, looking fondly at the painting.

The challenge for architects and designers was to bring a modern yet classic touch to a structure that was built in in 2006. It was to be an atrium hotel before the economy went south and the developer went bankrupt.

Fantastic design and attention to detail have ensured the building is a perfect fit for the hotel, Scholl says.

He notes that quiet music and a subtle scent are diffused into the hotel.

Texture is drawn from surfaces that cry out to be touched. Carrara marble covers everything from countertops in rooms to the floor in the lobby.

As for visuals, Scholl shrugs and looks around the awe-inspiring lobby.

“That sense is pretty well covered.”

The painting: A 47- inch by 68-inch tall copy of “En Soiree” by Sarah Atkinson, ZGallerie.com, $1,199.95.

White chairs: Fjord H chair by Patricia Urquiola, hivemodern.com, $500.

The white sofa: White Providence Sofa, likemodern.com, $1,418.

Chandelier: Nine-light, Rezzonico-style chandelier from Murano, italian-lighting-center.com, $18,000.

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