In this week's retail news in Palo Alto: Opulent boutique hotel The Clement opens, and downtown bakery Paris Baguette finds big success.
OPULENCE ON EL CAMINO ... Last week's opening of Palo Alto's newest, smallest and most expensive hotel represents a new wave of opulence on El Camino Real. The Clement, 711 El Camino Real, is unlike other hotels in this city. It does not have a lobby; it has a living room. It does not have a restaurant; it has a dining room. And the front doors of the hotel are always locked. The dissimilarities are intentional. "We want our guests to feel as if they're staying in the mansion of a friend, and we are the staff of the estate," hotel general manager Sebastian Stacey said. Additionally, guests are free to roam around the hotel's kitchen, which looks pretty much like a typical kitchen in a Palo Alto home -- albeit slightly larger. "It is a fully-stocked, communal kitchen," Stacey said. A considerable amount of work has gone into making the 23-suite hotel situated next to Palo Alto Medical Foundation both exclusive and luxurious. Fresh orchids, bonsai trees, personalized stationery and a tiny Zen garden are found in every room. The high-class touches even extend into the guest bathroom, or more specifically, the toilet, which comes with its own remote control and boasts options including a heated seat, customizable bidet, built-in dryer and air freshener. The bathroom comes with a second remote: one to control the television which is embedded in the mirror over the vanity. Introductory rates for a one-night stay start at $800, which is all-inclusive, but will be raised to $1,000 or more soon, according to Stacey. So who was the hotel's first paying guest? It's not likely that information will ever be revealed. According to Stacey, "We put a high value on our guest's privacy."
DOWNTOWN BAKERY BOOMS ... Silicon Valleyites love their baked goods -- so much so that they have helped make Paris Baguette in Palo Alto one of the bakery chain's top producing stores in California. "Our Palo Alto store is a showstopper," said Larry Sidoti, Paris Baguette's Chief Development Officer. "When we tell our story, it's one of the stores we point to." As Paris Baguette enters its sixth year at 383 University Ave., on the corner of Waverley Street, Sidoti says that particular location is a big advantage. "In the real estate world, you want a corner just like that," he said." Sidoti considers the success of the Palo Alto store "pivotal in proving that we can reach customers of all ethnicities and ethnic origins. Previous to opening in Palo Alto, our customers had been Korean-dominated, but Palo Alto changed all that." Paris Baguette is an international bakery brand featuring French-inspired recipes. It started in 1988 in Korea and now has 3,700 locations worldwide, 45 of which are in the U.S. Northern California has 11 of the bakeries, and more are on the way. "We're working on deals right now adjacent to Palo Alto," Sidoti said, but because the company is in the midst of negotiations, he declined to comment further. However, a second location in Palo Alto is not out of the question. "We may decide at some point to open another store in Palo Alto; there are a few parts of the city that would be conducive, possibly even the Stanford campus," Sidoti said.
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