The Grand Old Lady of Laguna has no need for a facelift, but recently the Hotel Laguna's interior underwent an "up-do."
Georgia Andersen presided over the Oct. 13 rededication of the hotel to celebrate the extensive remodeling of its interior. The event was an homage to the history of the hotel and to her husband, Claes Andersen, who died in August 2010.
"This is really a momentous occasion for me," Andersen said. "Claes and I moved [to Laguna] in 1985. We were so happy to be here. We had the first grand opening of the hotel then. I feel he is here today and he is happy that the hotel is beautiful again."
The impetus for the renovation was the damage done in the December deluge to the second-floor ceilings, which had to be repaired, and walls that had to be repainted. Andersen decided the hotel deserved more than a few cans of paint.
"Twenty–one rooms were renovated," said Heinz Hofmann, hotel chief operating officer since June and a longtime friend of the Andersen's, as well as a veteran of the hospitality industry.
"New carpeting has been laid in all 65 rooms and new draperies hung in two-thirds of the rooms," Hofmann said.
The hotel's historic ties to the city's arts community are reflected in the art selected for guest rooms — 40-by-50-inch photographs plucked from the Pageant of the Masters archives. The idea was suggested by Andersen's close friend Evalyn Daniel-Putnam, an art consultant. Artist Roark Gourley and Festival of Arts Promotions Director Sharbie Higuchi assisted in the acquisitions, which were approved by the festival board.
Guest stairs and hallways have also been re-carpeted, and new baseboards were installed.
"We revamped the entire lobby," Hofmann said.
A treasured hotel guestbook from 1931 is prominently displayed under glass in the lobby. On holidays, the pages will be flipped to the appropriate date. Such names as Charles Lindbergh and Errol Flynn, both known to have dined and imbibed at the hotel, might pop up.
Other guests at the hotel in the 1930s included Myrna Loy, the Nora in the "Nick and Nora" Charles comedies — crossword puzzle aficionados might be more familiar with the Charles' dog, Asta; Faye Wray, King Kong's first inamorata; Joan Fontaine, star of "Rebecca;" and John Barrymore, grandfather of Drew Barrymore.
The promenade from the lobby to the oceanfront Claes Ovation restaurant, which has also been refurbished, is lined with historical photographs.
Awnings and fire escapes were the only exterior elements to be refurbished, Hofmann said.
Rededication of the hotel was toasted in wine and champagne in the renovated lobby. Tours of two redecorated rooms were offered.
Mayor Toni Iseman and council members Verna Rollinger and Kelly Boyd cut the ribbon looped across the front door at the rededication, before slipping off to "Lagunatics" rehearsals.
"When we see the Grand Old Lady of Laguna Beach, we know we are home," said Iseman.
A hotel has been on the site since 1889, a beacon for residents and tourists being lured to Laguna while the rest of South County was building bunkhouses for vaqueros.
It was built by Henry Goff, for which Goff Street and Island are named, and bought by Joseph Yock for $600.
Yock also bought the defunct Arch Beach hotel — the first hotel in Laguna — cut it into three pieces and hauled it to Main Beach to create a 30-bedroom, two-bath establishment. It burned down before the paint was completely dry, according to Laguna Beach historian Karen Wilson Turnbull, author of "Cottages & Castles."