Die sieben Geheimnisse, die Sie nie über Weihnachtskarten-Rückendesign wissen werden | Weihnachtskarte zurück Design

By 2007, after decades of neglect by the cash-strapped French government, the century-old building had become a grime-encrusted conference center for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A Qatar-based property group, Barwa Real Estate, purchased the hotel for $550 million and will split 80-20 ownership with the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Ltd., which operates the hotel group. With another $580 million for renovations, The Peninsula’s deep-pocketed partners will restore the palatial edifice to its former glory.

A team of 20 master masons sandblasted and refurbished the exterior limestone walls. Basement floors were excavated to make room for a spa, parking and a paparazzi-free entrance. Distinctive fish scale–shaped tiles for the hotel’s curved roof were sourced from ancient slate quarries in the Pays de la Loire region. Inside, an army of construction workers and specialized artisans have fixed up paintings, woodwork and mosaics. In the lobby, six layers of paint had to be removed to unearth the original beige color, which, when the hotel opens in August, will reflect the glow of a delicate crystal Lasvit chandelier.

Each layer of paint bore witness to historic encounters between artists, politicians and generals that could only have happened in Paris. In 1922, the hotel hosted what has become a legendary dinner party that included Proust, Picasso, Joyce, Stravinsky and Diaghilev, to celebrate the premiere of the latter two’s ballet Renard—the only occasion when these icons of la belle époque and modernism ever assembled. Proust had gotten up from his deathbed to stagger over, only to be met by an inebriated Joyce, who reportedly didn’t have much to say to him. George Gershwin also spent three weeks here in 1928 composing An American in Paris, inspired in part by the cacophony of Citroëns on the Champs-Élysées.

The building also played a role in some of the 20th century’s greatest political upheavals. After World War I, the British delegation to the Treaty of Versailles moved in, bringing its own staff to avoid potential eavesdropping as the victors wrung concessions from the Germans. During World War II, the Majestic became German military headquarters for occupied France. Senior Wehrmacht officers were required to leave an overnight valise in an enormous bunker adjacent to the building in case the tide of history turned against them. Three decades later, in 1973, the place became the setting for the Paris Peace Accords to end the war in Vietnam, a drama so intense that even the shape of the negotiating table became a heated point of contention. The treaty, finally brokered by Henry Kissinger, was signed in a luxuriant oak-paneled parlor off the lobby, which is currently being refitted as The Peninsula’s bar.

As the room’s tapestries are being created off-site, workers scurry to make last-minute touch-ups before the opening. The French company that regilded the Statue of Liberty’s torch is applying some 2,100 square feet of gilding to the interiors. With all the illumination effects—including fiber-optic Web lighting at the hotel’s Cantonese restaurant, Lili—the tall curving salons and hallways have become a Midas’s dream. You can easily spot the gilders: chic women making their way through a sea of construction workers. “It takes 22 steps to gild something properly,” says a striking 23-year-old apprentice, Julie Foucard, lying on her back atop a scaffold, Michelangelo style, as she adds a paper-thin leaf of gold to a crown molding. “This is a rare opportunity, to apply our skills on such an extraordinary scale.”

The Majestic had 400 rooms, which the Peninsula has reduced to 200. That makes the cost even before construction an astronomical $2.75 million per room (beyond the record-breaking $1.5 million per room for the 2012 purchase of The Plaza in New York City). But what rooms! Exquisite, soft gray and chrome color schemes surround Art Deco touches such as white sofas with black piping. Atop the hotel are two levels of terraces, one with a restaurant and bar, another with private gardens that command sweeping views of Paris. A final historic touch will be mounted at the top of an open courtyard on the hotel’s main floor: an almost full-scale model of L’Oiseau Blanc, the biplane that attempted to cross the Atlantic two weeks before Lindbergh but disappeared on its way to New York.

“The building was a tired old lady,” says James Mercer, the mastermind behind the hotel’s transformation (he also managed the renovation of the once-fraying George V hotel, just a short walk away, into a flagship for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts). “But there was a kind of poetry buried in this building, in its history and design.”

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