Greg and Julie Schwartzenberger are the creators and co-founders of the minimalist luxury beach motel, Hotel Palms in Atlantic Beach, FL. Both have a rooted and unique creative flare. Julie grew up as a creative, painting and drawing and always designing something. Greg grew up in business, with a love for branding and merchandising. Together, they made their mark on the original 1947 motel property where they were able to put their stamp on the space with total freedom. This freedom inspired Greg to bring on a wave of talented artist features around the property. He loves having artists on the property and letting them be inspired by the hotel, community, and lifestyle.
Slowtide: What brought you to create Hotel Palms?
JS: I grew up as a creative, painting and drawing and always designing something. Greg grew up in business, with a love for branding and merchandising. I have a standing joke that Greg is only in the hotel game so he can brand and create T-Shirt designs!
At the time we started talking about the hotel, Greg was stuck in a family business he had lost his passion for. His parents passed away in a tragic accident leaving him at a crossroads. He rallied his sister Stevan, (our partner in the hotel) and me to invest in his vision for this little motel up the street from our homes.
Greg was inspired after a trip to Austin Texas with a friend, where he saw the transformation of some of the small motels there into art and culture meccas. He wanted to bring what he experienced to our beach town in our own way. Stevan and I quickly wanted to be a part of it.
Slowtide: When was Hotel Palms founded? What is the history behind this space?
JS: The Palms has been a motel since 1947. It was the way things were back in the 50's and 60's. Motor Court hotels started to pop up as automobiles became a mainstream method of transportation. This became a convenient way for road trippers to get easy access to their car and back on the road.
We took over the space from Hank and Dell Staley. They made their mark on the property as a 50's themed hotel. Before that the place had become pretty transient. When we took it over we did a full gut and remodel of the space. It was a dream as a designer to be able to put my stamp on the place with total freedom. I was able to listen to the building, the vernacular of the area, the art and culture as a group we wanted to bring --and our minimalist luxury beach life motel was born.
Slowtide: What makes this space unique to you, your community and the guests?
JS: Our space is very unique because we were the first and are really still the only true boutique motel in the area. We have put our heart and soul into this property. It truly is a reflection of Greg and I. I love design that keeps you inspired and wondering in the moment. Greg loves pops of art and the unexpected.
Together, we have created a well designed space that our guests feel comfortable and inspired in. One of my favorite elements is that the indoors leads seamlessly to the outdoor courtyard, containing a communal fireplace for guests to mingle. Not too much or too little of anything. One guest said, "It's like you have created your own little fort here:" and I liked that a lot.
Slowtide: Where do you look for design inspiration? What does the design process look like between you both?
JS: I find design inspiration everywhere. Especially in nature. The feelings and beauty in nature is something that speaks to me. We also love to travel and always seek out small boutique hotels to stay in. I will never forget El horizon in Palm Springs, The Fields of Michigan, The Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki, SohoHouse and Urban Cowboy in Nashville just to name a few. I am also greatly inspired by Art, both canvas and sculptural . I am obsessed with chairs and can't seem to have enough seating in my life.
The design process of any space typically starts with me. I am trained in Interiors, and the step by step process really helps get to the best possible final product. Greg is my secret weapon. I run everything by him and tweak things based on his feedback.
Greg and I also love to parti diagram on bev naps when we travel. Some of our best ideas have started with a glass of wine for me, a rum drink for him and lots of napkin sketches. I mean lots!
Slowtide: Tell us about the artist features around the property. How are these relationships curated?
GS: As the construction was underway, I could already see Jason Woodside making his mark on the front corner of the building exterior. I knew him through mutual friends in St. Augustine, and he was down to come hang. He came back again to hit the old chimney, then we asked another friend Ty Williams to come hit the front wall. I love art, especially art that scales big. After that, Ty came and hit the fireplace both at the hotel and at my house. An amazing perk has been inviting artists to my home to make their mark there as well. Julie has been very gracious in that regard.
Some artists that have come were already friends, and others we reached out to. Bisco came because I love his graffiti style and his process. Ben Brough came to paint before Pepper played, and Ozzie and Seth Conboy came by way of Volcom. I connected with Lucas Beaufort via social media and we formed a bond immediately. He followed up his first visit with Art Camp a year later and introduced me to some amazing artists I am now able to call my friends ... People like Ash Hayner, BB Bastidas, Terry Urban, Addeline Griswald, Ashley Dreyfus, Russ Pope, and Hannah Edy.
Now we are working with these artists and others on projects like art showcases, mini residencies, and artist merchandising projects. I love having artists on the property and letting them be inspired by our hotel, our community, and our lifestyle.
Slowtide: How do you feel when walking into Hotel Palms on a daily basis?
JS: First- Happiness and Pride. And then I think of 1 million ideas and little things I would love to do! That is part of the reason I started taking on private clients through my design company , Edge and Lines design. Our space inspires me so much, I need other projects to work on to keep my design side busy!
GS: Every time I get to the hotel, it's time to get to work.
Slowtide: What are your favorite elements of the space to share with the guests?
JS: I personally love the beds. It is where we started the design process, and where you spend the most time as a hotel guest. From the Bellino Italian sheets, to the Lulu and Georgia mid century throw blankets, to the Kelly Wearstler and Tamar Mogendorff's throw pillows, to the Phillip Jeffries wallpaper strips and fluted wood.
After that the courtyard is like no other. I will never forget standing in that space with Greg, when it was all dirt, popping lines for the lighting conduit. It is a time in my life I will never forget. The whole property is on an angle, there are no straight lines anywhere, which made this quite challenging.
I thank God every day for my gifts as a designer. Sometimes I feel like I am just the transmitter of all of these design ideas and layouts. They just come through me.