B&B Goes Modern -Fall 2018
Complementary historic architecture and modern design, skillfully styled, set Hotel Pippa, which opened in May at the corner of Centre and Chestnut streets, apart from other boutique hotels on the island.
by: Lucy Turnipseed
photography by: Terry Pommett
The 17-room property is Christopher and Asta Skehel’s first hotel on Nantucket, a long-talked-of project put into action when they purchased the former Hotel Green property this winter and swiftly renovated it.
Walking into the predominantly navy and white lobby, guests are struck with the feeling of an elevated, innovative Nantucket sensibility.
“Everyone really gravitated toward this one,” general manager Kevin Withrow said of the Nathan Coe photograph “Towel Girl,” which serves as the focal point in the room.
“It’s an embodiment of the brand: mid-century modern, really clean lines and it has this young side to it, which definitely shows in our demographic as well.”
Withrow, who was an integral part of the redesign, was the innkeeper at the revitalized Greydon House for two years and previously helped open Habitat 101, a 65-room apartment hotel in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He grew up on the island, learning the luxury-hotel business from his parents, who own and operate the Union Street Inn.
“Especially for how small it is, we tried to get it to be a little more dynamic than a typical sitting room. The sofa and wallpaper are custom-made and we tried to refine the space, make it really purpose-built,” Withrow said of the lobby.
What its website boasts as “Nantucket’s newest style icon” has expressions of the trend toward younger travelers along with more worldly design accents than the typical island hotel throughout the building.
Hotel Pippa is designer Giovanna Lucy’s first hospitality interior. She has previously been the in-house designer at several retail brands and staged Nantucket homes for rental and sale.
Joining the project in January, when the renovation process began, the property needed a lot of attention, she said.
“I came in with the full intention of making it new, fresh and clean. We wanted to do something completely different than is on-island right now with a mid-century modern flair,” Lucy said about the remodel.
“We went away from the more traditional Nantucket deal to something that’s a little more worldly: design-oriented, not historical-oriented,” Withrow said.
“But it’s about not overdoing it, mixing and using the traditional Nantucket aspects and really just leaving the bones alone,” he continued, pointing out the original curved corners on the
fireplace in the lobby, the plasterwork in all the rooms and brass stair rails, a design sensibility that incorporates both traditional and modern elements.
“The lobby is completely different from the rooms. The entrance has a dark, moody accent but the rooms are light in color and airy. They feel coastal,” Lucy said.
“We kept the architecture of the space intact, kept some of the quirkiness, but wanted to provide something for the guests that they may not be comfortable having in their own homes, but are taking a risk and experiencing it here,” she added.
Her inspiration comes from a lifetime of globetrotting, soaking up the design of each hotel interior she has stayed in and every architectural landmark she has toured.
Lucy has been on-island since the opening, and cannot seem to leave.
“My favorite part of the renovation process was being here, really I wanted to dig in deep
to the island. I spent a lot of time in each room, analyzing and digesting what the space needed,” she said.
The adjoining Petrichor Wine Bar and its central location accentuate Hotel Pippa’s goal of providing an unbeatable Nantucket experience to guests.
“We’re really fortunate being the new kids on the block along with other new high-end retail and galleries,” Lucy said.
Jill Viselli, who has been a sommelier on-island at Galley Beach and the Nantucket Golf Club, is both sommelier and proprietor of Petrichor – the name connoting the pleasant smell that comes off warm earth after a rain, a characteristic of many wines. Now, she says, “I do it all.”
Leasing the space from Skehel after convincing him a wine bar would be a highly-desirable convenience for his guests, Viselli offers a large selection of wines, bourbon, scotch and whiskey, most of which she has already had to reorder, and tried to make the space different from the same exposed brick and reclaimed wood themes seen in most wine bars from New York to Nantucket.
The sleek, dark and cozy space accented by hand-picked prints and a Dale Chihuly-inspired chandelier focal-point coincidentally coincides in its design with the hotel on the whole, perhaps because of their similar goals to bring new, forward-looking amenities to the island.
“I created an entire wine list of what I think people want to drink. I’m never pushing anything because I love it all, so it’s not intimidating, and it’s much more casual than the typical wine bar,” Viselli said.
She foresees a mutually-beneficial partnership between the hotel and the bar. Guests can take any food and drink from the wine bar to their rooms and the accommodations will be a draw for the wineries she plans to host for special dinners.
Viselli plans to stay open year-round and develop a full-service menu in the coming year.
The hotel has been at mostly full capacity all summer, with many of the rooms being booked at the last minute, Withrow said. Perhaps the tendency is representative of the spontaneity Hotel Pippa espouses.
“The hotel is a living organism,” Withrow said about the design and their future plans, of which he plans to be a part.
In the works now is a plan to feature small, tailor-suited installations from local artists in the rooms.
“We’ll be further blending the Nantucket story into the interior design and influencing guests’ stays,” Withrow said.
“It’s truly classic, the whole aesthetic really speaks to me.” ///
Lucy Turnipseed was a staff writer this summer at The Inquirer and Mirror, Nantucket’s newspaper since 1821. She is a freshman at Dartmouth College.