Latest News

Related Coverage
A week of stories from the Boston Globe's Washington bureau

Latest News
Washington, D.C.

Sections Boston Globe Online: Page One Nation | World Metro | Region Business Sports Living | Arts Editorials

Health | Science (Mon.)
Food (Wed.)
Calendar (Thu.)
At Home (Thu.)
Picture This (Fri.)

New England
Real Estate
City Weekly
South Weekly
West Weekly
North Weekly
NorthWest Weekly
NH Weekly

Book Reviews
Death Notices
Movie Reviews
Music Reviews
Today's stories A-Z
TV & Radio

Help Wanted
Real Estate

Contact the Globe
Send us feedback

Alternative views
Low-graphics version
Acrobat version (.pdf)

Search the Globe:


Search the Web
Using Altavista:

The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com Boston Globe Online / Nation | World
[ Send this story to a friend | Easy-print version | Add to Daily User ]

Hot wired hotel

Luxury and technology pamper the high-end traveler

By Marcella Bombardieri, Globe Correspondent, 11/21/99

f Boston needs a symbol for its dizzyingly prosperous, techno-driven Zeitgeist, Fifteen Beacon offers itself as a leading contender.

Fifteen Beacon is both the name and address of a new hotel that will cater to the young and wealthy business traveler who needs a color printer/fax/copier and a high-speed Internet connection in his room, but also appreciates 330-thread count Italian sheets, heated towel racks and a selection of 1,288 wines.

No aspect of business or pleasure will go neglected in this bastion of ultra-modern luxury. What good is an LCD television in the bathroom or a 5-disc CD player without three kinds of aromatherapy stocked in the minibar, a compl imentary chauffeured Mercedes, or personalized business cards waiting at the check-in counter?

This is the vision of developer Paul Roiff, who is set to open Fifteen Beacon on Dec. 1, placing all of the above - and more - at his guests' feet for a price starting at $395 a night.

The 61-room ''boutique'' hotel on Beacon Hill, with its mix of high-tech trappings and old-fashioned extravagance, is a sign of the times. New technology and new money are transforming Boston into a hub of suddenly rich young people frenetically snatching at bits of the good life in spare moments between yesterday's initial public stock offering and tomorrow's merger.

Fifteen Beacon, Roiff says, is tailored to a class of young executives whose way of life could never have been imagined by the developers who built Boston's older luxury hotels.

''When I think of the Ritz, I think of my grandparents. When I think of the Four Seasons, I think of my parents,'' said Roiff, who owns the swank Boston restaurant Mistral. ''And I think this is the next generation of hotel.''

Ten or even five years ago, Fifteen Beacon's potential customer base barely existed. But the financial sector and the high-technology industry are booming here as Massachusetts cashes in on the nation's dynamic economy.

Internet mania and the soaring stock market have put huge sums of money into more and more hands. Between 1995 and 1998, as many as a million people entered the ranks of America's millionaires, according to some estimates.

Typical among the new millionaires might be a 27-year-old who got lucky when his Internet start-up went public six months ago. He is the customer that Fifteen Beacon is aiming for.

This wealthy young business person, Roiff is betting, is willing to pay for the most modern conveniences and the most extreme indulgences. The standards of the wealthy, he believes, have reached new heights.

''We see more of the world than older generations saw,'' Roiff said. ''If we traveled once every three years, we would be excited by these hotel chains, but we are traveling all the time.''

''This generation is the most affluent in history,'' he continued. ''Their homes are beautiful, and even luxury hotels are not as nice as where they live.''

Fifteen Beacon is not the only Boston hotel with its finger on the pulse of the ''cyberati.''

Other Boston hotels are striving to adapt to the same confluence of wealth and technological advancement. ''There's certainly a new generation that's coming in,'' said Barbara Lootz, director of sales and marketing at the Ritz Carlton in Boston.

Every hotel in the Ritz chain has on staff a 24-hour ''technology butler,'' the person to call at 4 a.m. when your computer is on the fritz.

''From a technology standpoint, hotels need to stay on the cutting edge of what the business person needs,'' Lootz said. ''We can't sit back and rest on the image of the Ritz as a landmark in Boston. We need to stay one step ahead.''

Despite its impressive appointments, Fifteen Beacon's prices are comparable to, or lower than, other high-end hotels in Boston. Rooms start at $500 at the Four Seasons, and at $445 at the Ritz Carlton.

What Fifteen Beacon offers are touches unknown to those other hotels. Take the minibar, which is designed with '90s sensibilities in mind: It is stocked with an energy bar, a high-protein drink, ginseng, vitamins, an eye pillow, caffeinated peppermints and spring water packed with extra oxygen.

And then there's the technology. Guests will receive business cards printed with personal phone and fax numbers. Calls can be forwarded to voice mail or a cell phone. A control panel by the bed operates the gas fireplace, the surround-sound system - including digital satellite music - and the room's other gadgets.

Even the hotel's restaurant, the Federalist, has Internet hookups ready for patrons who can't wait for lunch to end before checking e-mail or trading a few shares.

Roiff and designer Celeste Cooper have taken care to mix the high-tech toys and trendy snacks with classic opulence. Each room, decorated in hues of espressos, cremes and taupes, has mahogany walls, original artwork, fresh flowers and a four-post bed. The minibar's alcohol selections include half bottles of top-shelf spirits like Opus One and Krug champagne.

The cost of turning Fifteen Beacon's 10-story Beaux Arts building - whose exterior is adorned with the Roman numeral XV - into a playground and workstation for the rich and trendy is more than $21.5 million, according to Roiff. He said the Federalist's wine cellar's impressive holdings carry a total price tag of $4.5 million. Among its more unusual offerings are two bottles of $12,000 Heidsieck Monopole champagne preserved for decades deep in the Baltic Sea where a Swedish vessel was sunk by a German U-boat in 1916, Roiff said.

Roiff spared no expense to impress and pamper today's jaded millionaires. The Federalist's handmade Italian leather menu covers cost $40,000, according to general manager William J. Sander III.

''If you're going to go to the skies, you might as well go all the way to the moon and beyond,'' Sander said.

This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on 11/21/99.
© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

[ Send this story to a friend | Easy-print version | Add to Daily User ]

Click here for advertiser information

© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company
Boston Globe Extranet
Extending our newspaper services to the web
Return to the home page
of The Globe Online