Shopping at the King of Prussia Mall can be harrowing for a city mouse. There are dozens of stores dedicated to luggage. There is an entire section of the mall's directory reserved for "Children's and Infant Fashions." And that doesn't begin to touch the shopping centers that surround the mall in concentric circles of decision paralysis. But occasionally it's necessary to physically try on 32 winter coats at 32 separate stores. Those times are often accompanied by a strong urge for 960 calories of avocado spring rolls from the Cheesecake Factory. After miles of suburban orienteering, the effort involved in actually getting home can be too much to bear.
Enter the new Sheraton Valley Forge, which opened its 180 oversized guest rooms to the public on October 8. The newly renovated Wurzak property is just down the road from the mammoth mall and Jake Wurzak expects to see as many social weekenders at the hotel as businesspeople visiting nearby Fortune 500 companies. "We wanted this to be like something you could find in New York," Wurzak said. "Not some airport in Toledo, Ohio."
Wurzak believes the hotel can compete with downtown properties including the Monaco and Le Meridien. He said the group incorporated design elements from urban hotels around the world, including the Mandarin Oriental's lobby in Paris and the St. Regis in San Francisco. "There's really nothing like it [in the suburbs]," Wurzak said. "Traditional suburban hotels tend to look very much the same." The design also includes a two-story lobby with a fireplace and guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and two-sided flatscreen TVs.
The hotel, née the Sheraton Hotel Park Ridge, once packed in 280 guest rooms and a courtyard Wurzak described using terms including "Soviet" and "1970s." When his hotel group purchased the property, they decided to enlarge the room sizes and overhaul the courtyard. More than 50 of the guest rooms now boast more than 700 square feet of space. In addition to a newly landscaped courtyard, the outdoor space now houses a glass pool (and whirlpool) house.
The piece de resistance for homesick Philadelphians and city-wary suburbanites alike? An outpost of the oldest Italian restaurant in the country, South Philly's own Ralph's. The restaurant will also have reign over the hotel's bar area. "It is important to partner up with local businesses that do things excellently," Wurzak said. Designers blew up family photos from walls inside the South Philly location and Wurzak describes the effect as "walking into Boardwalk Empire."
Black Friday is less than a month away. Best to shop prepared.