The name Charlotte Baldwin Allen is likely not very well known beyond greater Houston—or even among the youngest of Houstonians for that matter. A pioneering businesswoman in the 19th century, Baldwin was one of the Texas city’s founders, an accomplishment for which she has received little recognition over the years. (It is Charlotte’s husband, not her, who is memorialized in bronze outside Houston’s City Hall.)
Now, however, hundreds of years after her death, the woman who’s often referred to as the “mother of Houston,” is finally getting her due.
A former DoubleTree hotel in downtown Houston’s west end was recently remodeled and rebranded by Hilton and its new name is the C. Baldwin Hotel, an homage to the trailblazing Texas businesswoman. The nod to Baldwin isn’t merely limited to the property’s name, however. From its logo to its décor and its very spirit, the 354-room C.Baldwin is a tribute not only to Baldwin’s legacy but also to the current generation of women fearlessly shaping Texas’ landscape and society.
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“C. Baldwin represents the best of what downtown Houston has become while recognizing the women intertwined in its history,” said Maggie Rosa, general manager of the C. Baldwin.
The acknowledgment of the property’s famous namesake begins when you walk through its sliding glass front doors into the lobby. The logo emblazoned on the entrance is a simple X above a blank line. Puzzling at first glance, the logo has deep symbolism and meaning. During Baldwin’s day, women were unable to sign their own names on legal documents when conducting business matters.
Wander a little further into the property, past the front desk toward the back of the lobby, and you’ll find the Parlour, a space that’s set aside to become a secret, invitation-only, women’s social club. Expected to launch in late 2019, the Parlour will kick-off with a highly curated group of founding members—luminary female personalities who are busy leaving their own stamp on Houston’s blueprint.
Additional tributes to women throughout the newly opened hotel include naming all of its meeting rooms after women such as Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman elected to the Texas senate; Adina De Zavala, the renowned Texas writer and preservationist; and Texas rock and soul legend Janis Joplin.
Guest rooms meanwhile feature photos of famous or trailblazing contemporary Houston women. And appropriately enough, the photographs were shot by yet another notable woman, Houston photographer Elizabeth Conley.
As if all of that is not enough, the power and progress of women materialize in yet another noteworthy way at the C.Baldwin—its leadership and management.
In addition to its general manager, Rosa, there’s a long list of other women in key leadership positions including the assistant director of sales; the senior catering manager; the event manager; the executive chef; the pastry chef; the banquet manager, and the director of human resources—to name just a few. The property’s marketing manager, the director of housekeeping and the director of the front office are all also women.
“C. Baldwin is a hotel where anyone can make their mark,” said Rosa. “Inspired by a trailblazing woman who, regardless of notoriety, invested in Houston and wanted to make a difference in her community—on property, we have an outstanding team that has the desire and drive to do the same, incorporating their passion into everything they do.”
“I believe that our female leaders add perspective and value to our leadership team, each having different backgrounds and experiences that inspire one another, as well as others around them,” added Rosa.
As for the property particulars, the C. Baldwin features a swank, retro style throughout. And that too is due in large part to a bevy of talented women.
The posh guest rooms and public spaces were all redone by Lauren Rottet from Houston-based Rottet Studio. Philadelphia-based Kate Rohrer of Rohe Creative designed the food and beverage interiors.
Property amenities include a signature restaurant, Rosalie’s Italian Soul, helmed by Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino and executive chef Sasha Grumman. Walking into the restaurant is like taking a step back in time circa 1970s, which is exactly what its creators were aiming for with the mid-century inspired design, furnishings and ambiance.
The hotel also includes a trendy beauty retreat Paloma, (and surprise, surprise, it too is run by a trailblazing local Houston woman who has already opened two other Paloma locations in Houston). Notably, Paloma features vegan and all-natural beauty offerings and the pedicures you’ll get here are worth the trip to Houston alone.
C. Baldwin guest rooms and suites feature a mix of modern and sophisticated décor as well as floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s also a handful of corner rooms outfitted with Peloton cycles, offering active guests with a wellness option in the privacy of their own room.
“A concerted effort was made not only to involve female decision-makers in the hotel’s development but to also create spaces that would appeal to the female traveler while naturally intriguing their male counterparts,” said Rosa. With all of the property’s efforts—from its namesake to its photography and its programming—the C. Baldwin aims to inspire the guests who walk through the doors.
During an interview with Houston Matters, a local radio program, Rosa explained that the goal of the hotel is to leave guests with the message that the sky is the limit in life. “We want you to be inspired by the legacy that you can leave, by what you can create, by what you can make happen,” Rosa told the radio show.
The property itself meanwhile, is already leaving its mark.
It hosted a blow-out, celebrity-studded grand opening party earlier this year attended by a who’s who of Houston high-society. The glitterati included the city’s monied movers and shakers, Houston rappers Slim Thug and Willie D, a slew of Houston Texans players and even a Mexico-based celebrity couple, actress/singer Lola Ponce and actor Aaron Diaz.
The headliner of the evening was another nod to she-power.
Disco queen Gloria Gaynor was enlisted to entertain the crowd singing a variety of her greatest hits and before departing the stage belted out the female anthem from 1977 that made her a household name—I Will Survive.
How very appropriate for a property that’s all about elevating the voices of women, both past and present.