New Palo Alto hotel banks on 'all-inclusive' concept

At $800 a night, the Clement Palo Alto targets high-end clientele

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.

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14 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Where do the 26 staff members park?

20 people like this
Posted by Bette
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 28, 2016 at 9:26 pm

Better yet---where do they live?

Ah well-just "let them eat cake."

26 people like this
Posted by Clement Chen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:22 am

Member asked, "Where do the 26 staff members park?" to which there are multiple answers:

1. First, The Clement Hotel is a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week operation, so we never have all 26 staff members at the hotel at any one time. The peak number is more like 10 staff members at any one time.

2. The Clement Hotel itself has 23 parking spaces, the same 1 space per room as at the Sheraton Palo Alto Hotel and The Westin Palo Alto. This meets the City's requirement and, more important, is sufficient in real life: Our experience at the Sheraton Palo Alto Hotel and The Westin Palo Alto is that 1 space per room handles our parking needs. Our actual guest parking demand at the Sheraton and The Westin is less than 1 parking space per room, usually 0.6 - 0.8 parking spaces per occupied guest room, depending on day of week and profile of guests (for instance, weekend wedding groups have more cars, and visiting sports teams have fewer cars).

3. The Clement Hotel, like the Sheraton and The Westin, are fortunate to be next to the Caltrain station and all of the SamTrans and VTA bus service, so public transportation is used by a number of our staff.

4. In addition, since we also own and operate the Sheraton and The Westin next to The Clement Hotel, our staff have the ability to park at either of those hotels. This was not a factor that was considered in meeting the City's parking requirements, but it is convenience that we are happy that we can provide.

Thanks for asking an important question!

Clement Chen

29 people like this
Posted by Clement Chen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:46 am

"Bette" asked, "Better yet, where do they live?"

This is a great question that affects The Clement Hotel and our other hotels, the Sheraton and The Westin Palo Alto, as well as every hotel in the Bay Area. Our staff live at various locations in the Bay Area, some as far away as the Central Valley! Unlike Marie Antoinette, we, too, want a community that has a quality, affordable supply of housing for all members.

I don't have all of the answers but I personally applaud the development of denser housing that we are seeing up and down the Peninsula. Yes, it means bigger and taller buildings, and a change to what we are accustomed to seeing, but it means more housing, which will relieve some of the price pressure. Done well, these new housing developments also create interesting retail opportunities which also benefit our communities.

Clement Chen

12 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 29, 2016 at 10:19 am

[Post removed.]

4 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 29, 2016 at 11:48 am

[Post removed.]

4 people like this
Posted by Harry
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 29, 2016 at 1:29 pm

[Post removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by AY
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm

[Post removed.]

8 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Thank you, Clement Chen, for chiming in with answers to the comments. It sounds like a beautiful hotel. I love the concept.

16 people like this
Posted by unidentified
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 5:44 pm

It is very odd to scroll down to comments and see that every one has been removed but for someone who asked a question and someone who expanded on the question. Otherwise, the only person getting to comment is the developer (at great length and who was already interviewed for this article). That is just wrong. I have a hard time thinking that all the removals were because people were nastly, dirty, or mean. What gives, PA Online - do you even realize what you have done? A wholesale censure of comments? Do you have an obligation to balance your removals or does it just take a rich developer to protest cause he doesn't like what was written to get them removed? Sure seems like the latter. Now - let's see if my comment survives or not.

10 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 29, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Agree, I find it interesting that my posting was deleted because it was not offensive. I just mentioned that Palo Altans want to keep this a family town, not morph into a big city with high rises.

7 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2016 at 6:03 pm

@unidentified As someone who can be accused of pushing the limits of speech on these forums, let me venture to guess that the posts deleted were rabid condemnations along the lines of "...of why does Palo Alto need a $800 a night hotel..." or "...why are you not paying your employees more..." or " are ruining Palo Alto by supporting denser housing..."

As soon as I read Clements postings I could tell he was going to tick off a segment of this community. He provided concise, articulate and polite answers to the original questions. There is a large segment of this community that cannot stand that if it doesn't align with their world view.


6 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Dear Mr. Chen,
I applaud your wonderful new business, but take issue with your comments about housing. You wrote that we should build more because "but it means more housing, which will relieve some of the price pressure". That is completely wrong. It will increase pressure on the infrastructure, npbut it's not going to reduce pricing, if anything, new housing stock tends to be more desirable and increase average prices in an area with global demand.

The simplistic supply and demand arguments don't hold up. The article points out that there are far more hotel rooms now because of the new hotels - did that reduce hotel room prices? Before the new hotels were built, we used to be able yo put our relatives up in hotels to visit but now we can't afford anything anywhere local. Building more and new does not make prices lower.

4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:12 pm

There you have it Mr. Chen, it is singularly your responsibility to solve all issues of Bay Area affordability, which, conversely, have absolutely no solution.

Good luck!

2 people like this
Posted by RW
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2016 at 11:01 pm

Am I the only person who would *never* consider paying $800 (eventually $1200) a night for a hotel room? Yeah, I'm a total cheapskate, but still!

I can count on one hand the number of things I've purchased for upwards of $800. My house, car, sofa, mattress. And those things will last much longer than one evening.

1 person likes this
Posted by so not impressed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 30, 2016 at 3:55 pm

"since we also own and operate the Sheraton and The Westin next to The Clement Hotel".
There it is.

Like this comment
Posted by James San Filippo
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 30, 2016 at 6:44 pm

I enjoyed the opportunity to work with Clement Chen and Pacific Hotel Management, LLC in the construction of the Westin Palo Alto. I am delighted to see another wonderful creation by Mr. Chen come to fruition. The Bali experience created a great basis for what I am confident will be a very relaxed and restful environment for valued guests. Wishing you continued success!

Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 30, 2016 at 7:13 pm

[Post removed due to inaccurate factual assertions.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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