Historic Milwaukee hotel plans US$20 million overhaul

Pictured: rendering of The Pfister’s new grand ballroom design.
Milwaukee, USA-based Marcus Hotels & Resorts is to extensively renovate its flagship property in a US$20 million project.

The historic Pfister Hotel will undergo a multi-phase redevelopment to further elevate its guest experience.

Multi-phase plan

Starting with a full revitalisation of the ballrooms and meeting spaces, the overhaul will move onto creating all-new guestrooms in its historic tower, and conclude with enhancements to the hotel’s iconic lobby, lobby bar, and Café at the Pfister.

All phases of this renovation are expected to be completed by spring 2024.

Stately spaces

The first phase has already begun on the seventh floor in The Pfister’s stately meeting and event spaces, starting with the Imperial Ballroom and King’s Row and followed by the Grand Ballroom and the Hall of Presidents.

Utilising a new and refined colour palette, nearly every element of the seventh-floor meeting and event spaces will include luxurious wallcoverings, custom Axminster wool carpet, tailored drapery and historic fixtures for a new appealing look that honours the hotel’s historic roots. As added comfort, all restrooms are being renovated, along with an expanded women’s restroom and the construction of a new unisex restroom.

As host to hundreds of events per year that can accommodate 50 to 1,500 guests, the seventh-floor spaces will feature state-of-the-art technology to enhance the event experience, including high-performance audio equipment as well as top-of-the-line lighting to match any ambiance. Each space can be subdivided into smaller spaces to fit guests’ specific needs, with updated climate controls, private entrances for special guests and updated wifi and conferencing capabilities.

High tech and historic

The Pfister’s seventh floor renovations will also incorporate many elements of its storied past into the redesign. The Imperial Ballroom’s original gold-plated chandeliers have been refurbished, while its gilded ceiling retained its original detail following a restorative cleaning, while the Grand Ballroom’s exquisite crystal chandeliers will continue to shimmer over its guests. New custom gold-plated fine china is designed to replicate the historic fine china once served at The Pfister Hotel many years ago.

In addition to the ballrooms and meeting spaces, the pre-function area on the seventh floor will complement the renovations with added functional nuances. For example, the area’s bar will feature stone and woodwork details with a moveable wall to transition from daytime to nighttime events. This innovative design will allow for customised experiences, including an elevated full coffee presentation for morning events and a fully stocked bar for the evening. The gathering space will also include additional seating with pieces intentionally designed for aesthetics as well as to foster discussion and collaboration among event attendees.

Behind the scenes, The Pfister’s renovations will include enhancements to its professional catering services, including top-of-the-line commercial appliances.

Tower transformation

In autumn, the renovation programme will move onto the guestrooms in the hotel’s historic tower. They will be restyled with today’s discerning traveller in mind and include custom designed carpet, new luxurious furnishings, updated drapery and window treatments, select new bar areas for entertaining, entirely new bathrooms with updated lighting fixtures, tile showers and mirrors with built-in lighting.

Renovations to the lobby and first-floor public spaces will begin in early 2024 and will include new carpet, new luxurious furnishings, and updated colour palettes to complement the iconic domed ceiling.

Icon for generations

Michael Evans, president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts, said: “Celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, The Pfister is the crown jewel of Milwaukee. With these renovations, we are blending our celebrated history and traditions with contemporary refinements, fresh aesthetics and enhanced amenities that will result in The Pfister’s continuation as a Milwaukee and national icon for generations to come.”

Brandon Drusch, MD of The Pfister Hotel, added: “For over a century, The Pfister has been our city’s enduring mainstay, holding as much of Milwaukee’s history as its own. And thanks to thoughtful planning, impeccable attention to detail, and expert craftsmanship, we are elevating our time-honoured luxury in a way that is approachable and fresh for today’s guest.”