Four Seasons Baltimore prepares to pamper guests

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The Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore is about to welcome its first guests, but visitors taking a sneak peek might not realize the hotel isn't open yet.

The lobby is bustling with excitement and energy. There's a crew of attractive people sitting at the bar with the harbor as a backdrop. The smell of savory pit-roasted chicken fills the restaurant area. And the spa already has a quiet ambience — and a few clients.

They are mostly employees, explains Judith Dumrauf, the hotel's director of marketing. "We're testing everything," she says.

By everything, she means the 256 lavish rooms, the 11 treatment rooms at the spa, the elevated deck and infinity pool with views of the Inner Harbor, Wit & Wisdom — a tavern by Michael Mina — the LAMILL Coffee cafe and an electronic system that lets the hotel know when guests do not want to be disturbed.

And that's just for starters.

On Monday, the $200 million hotel in Harbor East opens its doors on what will likely be viewed as the most luxurious hotel in downtown Baltimore.

"This is like an urban resort," says Dumrauf. "We're on the water. We're not like a typical city hotel because of our location."

Well, that and a few other things — the Italian glass chandeliers, the Turkish marble accents, the American black walnut millwork and the Appalachian-inspired hickory planked floors among them.

The 18-story hotel's design is modern transitional, with lots of wood, marble, glass, nickel and leather. Furnishings follow an earthy palette, with rich browns, deep rusts and subtle grays, accented by metallic tilework. The artwork — and there will be plenty of it, some museum-quality — aims to follow the Washington Color School, an abstract art movement from the 1950s and 1960s.

Guests will find 256 lavish rooms, including 45 suites — of those, two are Presidential Suites and two are Royal Suites. Eighty-five percent of the rooms have harbor or marina views. A deck area on the fifth floor will offer hot tubs, cabanas and lounge chairs in season.

The Royal Suite is 2,800 square feet, with a marble foyer, office, media room, dressing room and service pantry with stainless-steel appliances. From the 17th floor, floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony and terrace offer sweeping views of the harbor and city. It's perfect for an extended stay, but at $6,000 a night, a mortgage might be more affordable.

You won't have to check in to the hotel to enjoy its 10,200-square-foot spa. There's a mani-pedi room, showers with LED lights, vitality baths, heated tile lounge chairs and separate locker areas for men and women. The Signature Harbor Salt Scrub and Hot Oil Massage starts at $255 for a one-hour, 50-minute treatment. And a VIP treatment room includes a private whirlpool and deck overlooking the Pier Six Pavilion.

The hotel plans to offer three restaurants, but only two will be opening this year. LAMILL Coffee is a breakfast and lunch cafe from an eclectic company based in Los Angeles. Wit & Wisdom is the second collaboration with the Four Seasons for chef Michael Mina. The tavern will focus on classic American fare. Pabu, a Japanese restaurant, is set to open in February.

Even with such upscale amenities, Dumrauf says the hotel expects to cater to families, and it already has several family-size reservations for Thanksgiving. Events and meetings will also be a focus — 15 weddings are already booked.

Still, competition in Harbor East and downtown Baltimore may be fierce. Several new hotels have opened in the area in the past two years, but Dumrauf says there's always room for more.

"I don't feel that we have anything like this product," says Dumrauf. "It's been missing from the market."

michelle.deal@baltsun.com

If you goFour Seasons Hotel Baltimore

200 International Drive, Baltimore, 410-576-5800; fourseasons.com/baltimore

The luxury hotel offers accommodations, restaurants, fitness center, outdoor entertainment, spa, meeting rooms and ballroom. There are 256 rooms on 18 floors, including 45 suites. Most rooms have water views. Regular rates for a standard room start at about $295 per night.

The Four Seasons is offering introductory rates on Friday and Saturday starting at $219 per night for a city view and $259 for a harbor view. The discounted rates are available through February. Go to fourseasons.com/baltimore and click on "special offers."

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