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The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee Announces Extensive Renovations

Already the city’s premier downtown hotel, The Pfister Hotel’s multifaceted plan will marry timeless elegance with the utmost in distinctive style and sophistication

By Todd R. Berger

8.23.23 The Pfizer Hotel lobby in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The lobby of The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin | Courtesy of The Pfister Hotel

The Pfister Hotel, a historic AAA Four Diamond hotel in Milwaukee owned and managed by Marcus Hotels & Resorts, announced that it is undergoing an extensive, state-of-the-art, multiphase renovation to further elevate its renowned exceptional guest experience. The renovation, which began in June and is expected to cost $20 million, will feature a full revitalization of the ballrooms and meeting spaces, followed by all-new guest rooms in its historic tower, and conclude with enhancements to the hotel’s iconic lobby, lobby bar, and Cafe at the Pfister. All phases of this renovation are expected to be completed by spring 2024.

“Celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, The Pfister is the crown jewel of Milwaukee,” says Michael Evans, president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts. “For generations, The Pfister has been the hotel of choice for presidents, poets, performers, and hall of famers. It has served as the trusted backdrop to red-carpet events, history-making announcements, as well as countless galas, meetings, reunions, and more. 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.”

The first phase of renovations has begun on the seventh floor in The Pfister Hotel’s stately meeting and event spaces. The beautiful Imperial Ballroom and King’s Row gave guests their first look at the complete redesign when they reopened in July, with The Grand Ballroom and the Hall of Presidents to follow soon. As the most celebrated ballrooms in Milwaukee, these spaces are where Milwaukee’s top charities raise millions in vitally needed funds, and where thousands of small to Fortune 100 companies meet to learn and celebrate.

Utilizing a new and refined color 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 honors 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 total event experience, including high-performance audio equipment that delivers superior sound as well as top-of-the-line lighting to match any ambience, day or evening. Each space can be subdivided into smaller spaces to fit guests’ specific needs, with updated climate controls, private entrances for special guests, updated WiFi and conferencing capabilities, and more.

Continuing to honor its deep history in Milwaukee, the Pfister’s seventh-floor renovations will also incorporate many elements of its storied past into the redesign, starting with its famous distinctive features. The Imperial Ballroom’s original gold-plated chandeliers have been refurbished to ensure they continue to gleam as they have for more than 130 years, and its stunning 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. Key pieces of the hotel’s legacy Victorian art collection, including originals such as “Reverie” by Consuelo Fould, “Dorothy Vernon” by Louis Emile Adan, and “Friends” by Pietro Scadrone, will continue to adorn the seventh floor. And when sitting down to a delectable meal, guests will dine on custom gold-plated fine china, 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 seventh-floor bar will feature stone and woodwork details with a moveable wall to transition from daytime to nighttime events. This innovative design will allow for customized 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 Hotel’s renovations will include enhancements to its professional catering services, including top-of-the-line commercial appliances utilized by only the finest dining establishments. Already known for its exceptional event offerings, these enhanced culinary capabilities will elevate the restaurant-quality meals and excellent service found at every event.

“For over a century, The Pfister has been our city’s enduring mainstay, holding as much of Milwaukee’s history as its own,” says Brandon Drusch, managing director of The Pfister Hotel. “For generations, the Pfister has been the hotel of choice for event planners and individual guests alike. And thanks to thoughtful planning, impeccable attention to detail, and expert craftsmanship, we are elevating our time-honored luxury in a way that is approachable and fresh for today’s guest.”