The Rich History of St. Regis Hotels
The St. Regis is a historical hotel, with a long and rich past of events that influence its present grandeur and noble attitude. The story of St. Regis begins in 1904, when John Jacob Astor IV opened The St. Regis New York's "gilded doors". The New York Times declared it "the finest hotel in America". Born of a distinctive legacy spanning more than a hundred years, The St. Regis story is as enduring as the experiences it inspires today. As America's first multi-millionaire, the Astors helped shape the meaning of affluence and social pre-eminence, and with that, the rituals and traditions that are carried out flawlessly today, drawn from the historical traditions at the very first St. Regis Hotel in New York.
With matriarch Caroline Astor at the helm of high society, "The" Mrs. Astor created the first true expression of New York society by hand-selecting those with whom she associated - known as the "400". This new experience of exclusivity made even the wealthiest and most renowned eager to become a member of her inner circle. Led by "The" Mrs. Astor, the undisputed Grande Dame that ruled New York high society, The St. Regis New York ushered in a new era of lavish parties, afternoon teas, balls and suppers - occasions previously confined to the private homes of the elite - and thus became the next social mecca for years to come, shaping history and defining the standard for all hotels to come.
Famous for her love for diamonds, Mrs. Astor always appeared resplendent in the brilliance of her jewels. Perhaps the most notable is a celebrated diamond stomacher that was fabled to have once belonged to Marie Antoinette. A universal symbol of great wealth and power, diamonds epitomised Lady Astor's influence in the upper echelons of high society and as a role model for women across America. Lady Astor's passion for diamonds also inspired the discreet diamond pattern that has become synonymous with the brand, and The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur. Lady Astor cultivated a sense of luxury and refinement in all aspects of the hotel's operation. Fresh flowers were brought in daily, an English-style butler and afternoon tea services were implemented and exclusive social gatherings such as midnight suppers created an air of grandeur inside The St. Regis that enthralled its guests. Her legendary style is still celebrated today in Afternoon Teas and Midnight Suppers.
Cherished traditions such as these are carried out as flawlessly today as they were a century ago under the discerning eye of Lady Astor. These time-honoured traditions and countless others have helped create the air of magic and seduction sought after by patrons of the St. Regis hotels all over the world. The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur stands as a symbol of uncompromising elegance and bespoke service, just as John Jacob Astor had envisioned it so many years ago.
Created in the early 1800s by the Duchess of Bedford, after complaining of having a "sinking feeling" in the late afternoons. The Duchess discovered having a light meal of tea and cakes or sandwiches, taken privately in her boudoir, was the perfect solution.
The Grand Dame of New York's society, Mrs. Caroline Astor adopted this tradition inviting a select few to her drawing room to catch up on the latest gossip behind closed doors.
Experience the signature St. Regis Afternoon Tea as "The" Mrs. Astor would have enjoyed in the 19th century in The Drawing Room where the monumental Botero horse stand tall, the largest sculpture renowned artist, Fernando Botero has ever made.
THE GAME OF KINGS
Polo, one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating sport, started with humble beginnings in Persia as a form of military training. It was then adopted by Persian Emperor Shapur II learning to the game when he was seven years of age. Since then, polo, referred to as the “Game of Kings”, has often been associated with the rich and noble.
The association between St. Regis and polo emerged early in the 20th century when both the sport and The St. Regis New York became a part of New York's vibrant summer social scene, where the Astor family were a prominent fixture. Watch this space for details on The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur's polo tournament in August 2016.
THE BLOODY MARY
In 1934 at the King Cole Bar of The St. Regis New York, a new cocktail dubbed Bloody Mary was perfected by bartender Fernand Petiot. Deemed too racy a name for the hotel’s clientele, it was renamed the Red Snapper.
While Red Snapper may not have stood the rest of time, Fernand Petiot’s concoction certainly has. Today, the Bloody Mary remains the signature cocktail of the St. Regis brand with each hotel crafting its own interpretation of the libation. The Bloody Mary cocktail is available at the Astor Bar of The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur.
In October, the beloved libation will celebrate its birthday at The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur and around the world.
The transition from day to evening is marked by a champagne sabrage, a technique said to have been introduced by Napoleon Bonaparte, who famously opened champagne with his saber while having said, “Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.” Today, it is a signature of the St. Regis brand, often performed by St. Regis butlers to commemorate victories at the polo field, welcome the evening and to ceremoniously welcome a new St. Regis hotel.
During New York’s Gilded Age, the Grand Dame of New York’s society, Mrs. Caroline Astor and mother to St. Regis founder John Jacob Astor IV, would invite a select few from the famous "400" to gather for a Midnight Supper as it began at midnight where a 10-course dinner and ballroom dancing would take place into the early morning. These dinner parties remain as memorably grand and intimate events held at various St. Regis hotels around the world.