Palo Alto's bustling hotel scene got a little busier on Monday with the launch of The Clement Palo Alto, a boutique hotel opening with just two dozen rooms but with high hopes.
The four-story hotel at 711 El Camino Real near downtown Palo Alto is the brainchild of Clement Chen, whose family company, Pacific Hotel Management LLC, also owns the adjacent Westin and Sheraton hotels. To set itself apart, The Clement features all-inclusive services and amenities: All meals and snacks; an array of wine, beer and cocktails; the mini-bar; in-room dining; gratuities; use of the business center; valet parking; high-speed Internet access; personal concierges; shoe-shine service; and twice-daily housekeeping, among other services, are provided as part of the hotel rate.
With the economy rebounding, Chen said that now is a good time to open the hotel: Demand for accommodations is strong.
"I don't think it has room to upswing. Every Monday to Thursday, everyone in town is full," Chen said of the two dozen hotels in Palo Alto. "And then on weekends, the different hotels pursue different strategies. Some maintain their rates, some lower them."
The Clement is currently charging $800 per night as an introductory rate but eventually will charge $1,200 a night on weekdays, according to the hotel website.
Chen said that "time will tell" what mix of patrons the hotel will attract, but he expects to see business executives, Stanford University-affiliated visitors and guests of local residents. Perhaps, he said, even celebrities who are looking for a private and exclusive place to stay will choose the hotel.
A city-commissioned study in 2008 found that Palo Alto's hotels offered 1,865 rooms. Since then, facilities including Hotel Keen and the Epiphany Hotel in downtown Palo Alto and Hilton Homewood Suites and Hilton Garden Inn along El Camino have opened, adding nearly 475 rooms.
More hotels are on the way: Marriott has proposed two hotels on San Antonio Road that between them would add about 300 rooms. And the existing 36-room Hotel Parmani on El Camino and Hansen Way has plans to rebuild, with the larger four-story version providing 93 guest rooms.
Not all plans have come to fruition, though: A long-expected hotel that would have included 140 rooms, proposed for the site of the former Ming's restaurant in the Baylands, has been scuttled in favor of a proposal for an auto dealership.
The opening of The Clement caps an eight-year effort for Chen, who initially conceived of it as a five-story-tall concierge "wing" connected to the Sheraton and Westin. After deciding in late 2008 that the idea, which was going to require a rezoning, "wasn't going to be a winner," he retooled the concept and broke ground in 2014.
"The inspiration for this hotel came about when my wife and I took a getaway trip to the island of Bali," Chen stated in an announcement of the opening. "We stayed at a small hotel there that left a deep impression on us. Everybody at the hotel -- even the gardening staff -- knew our names, and everyone there was so warm and personable. And, since all of the staff knew who we were, we never had to sign a check for anything. We didn't feel like we were customers at a hotel; we were able to just relax and enjoy our stay, like being at home, only better."
This "home-away-from-home" includes 650-square-foot suites, a rooftop pool deck with cabanas, a dining room, and a fully stocked guest pantry and communal kitchen available around the clock.
In addition, each guest is paired with a concierge who will attend to that person's needs throughout his or her stay.
Because Pacific Hotel Management also operates the two sister hotels, The Clement's 26-member staff has been training at the Sheraton and Westin for several months, Chen said, finally coming together at The Clement in the past two weeks, after the city signed off on the hotel's certificate of occupancy.