For Richard and Sue Wollack, residents of The St. Regis San Francisco, the “wow” factor is a daily experience.- By Michael Albanese | Photography by Kingmond Young
From the 27th floor of The St. Regis San Francisco, Richard and Sue Wollack gaze out floor-to-ceiling windows from the living room of their private residence and marvel at the inspired views of the city.
“It just takes our breath away,” Richard Wollack says. “There is something about this city and being able to see it like this every day that is truly inspiring,” he continues.
“The views are unforgettable,” Sue Wollack adds. “There is a wide expanse of the city. You do not feel closed in. What you feel is connected. And, even if it is for only 30 seconds, I make a point to step out onto our balcony at least once a day.”
Originally from Chicago, Ill., the Wollacks now split their time between San Francisco and St. Helena, Calif., where they gravitated to the wine industry after nearly four decades in the real estate business.
“It’s a wonderful business to be in,” Richard Wollack says. “We’ve watched the growing interest in wine over the years and felt it was time to move with that change. Now, we are fortunate to be surrounded by a culture of wine, food and friends both in the city and in the country.”
That culture certainly extends to The St. Regis San Francisco residences, where there is an authentic sense of community and a confluence of neighbors-turned-friends who connect in dedicated residential areas, including the private outdoor space on the ninth floor of the property.
“We really like the feeling here,” Richard Wollack adds. “There is a real sense of community.”
As convivial as they are passionate, the Wollacks often host dinner parties and are blessed to treat their guests to amazing light during the day and dramatic views at night. “Our kitchen window overlooks the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts,” Sue Wollack says. “Sometimes we cook, sometimes we order room service. But, wow, we always have that view.”
A private residence at The St. Regis San Francisco is a unique indulgence. Luxuriously appointed two- and three-bedroom apartments boast those stunning vistas of the city that the Wollacks enjoy, including the San Francisco Bay. Poggenpohl kitchens, comprehensive state-of-the-art technology, six-foot Kohler bathtubs and powder room sinks carved out of stone are but a few of the handsome appointments that make these homes the ultimate in urban dwelling.
“We are not the original owners of this unit,” Richard Wollack says of the decor. “But, we are blessed the previous owner had great taste. They left us very little to do in terms of renovation and aesthetic improvement.”
The Wollacks added recessed lighting and a vanity in the master bathroom, refurbished the sink in the half bathroom, created an art wall in the entryway, where a coat closet originally existed, and built a wet bar with a wine cellar. “These small changes added intrigue to the home,” Richard Wollack says. “But, it also made everything very functional.”
“Our residence has a tasteful Asian influence,” Sue Wollack adds. “We worked with Berkeley Mills, who made gorgeous bamboo cabinetry for us. They really are unbelievable and do first-class work. I would recommend them to anyone.”
One of the couple’s favorite spaces in the residence is their guest bedroom, which doubles as an office.
“We love it in there,” Richard Wollack says. “It has great views of the south and west and is just a comfortable place to work. We also really enjoy our mirror in the living room that is disguised as a flat-screen television,” he adds. “It fits in with the modern, functional and urban elegance of the entire property.”
Impeccably designed by Paul Wiseman of The Wiseman Group, the 102 residences of The St. Regis San Francisco soar 19 floors above the 260-room landmark hotel. With three duplex penthouses on the 39th and 40th floors of the building and an astonishing 20,000-square-foot Museum Tower Penthouse, The St. Regis San Francisco exquisitely represents an unmatched hybrid of service, elegance and location.
Wiseman brought years of experience working in high-end residential design to The St. Regis San Francisco, experience that was useful in the selection of finishes, lighting fixtures, furnishings and other custom details of the building.
“The design inspiration for The St. Regis San Francisco was taken from the architecture of the building—clean and elegant, but a soft, comfortable retreat from a busy city feel,” says Wiseman, who successfully integrated traditional modern interior architecture to complement the architecture of the building.
The Wollacks, who moved to San Francisco at the end of 1979, lived in four different neighborhoods before calling The St. Regis San Francisco home three years ago. Richard Wollack, who has been in the real estate business since 1971, maintains a unique perspective and intuition of the city where he now considers himself a native.
“There are two cities within one in San Francisco. There is the ‘suburban city,’ where we first lived, and then there is the ‘urban city,’ ” he says. “For over 25 years, we watched the fulcrum of the city shift toward Market Street. There was a natural transition that put the gravity of San Francisco directly in the arts, which we think is the heart of this city. Besides the location, we were also attracted to the world-class and credible St. Regis brand.”
Located in the heart of San Francisco’s most vibrant and revitalized neighborhood, The St. Regis San Francisco is close to the city’s financial district, Union Square shopping and myriad culinary and nightlife venues. In addition to dining and shopping, the building is next to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and across the street from the Yerba Buena Gardens and Center for the Arts.
“You have the Museum of Modern Art 22 feet away,” says Sue Wollack, who has served as a docent at the museum. “Yerba Buena, the Jewish Museum, amazing food and great shopping, all within blocks,” she continues. “This location was the primary reason we chose The St. Regis San Francisco. It invokes a special feeling.”
In addition to its prime location, superior design and first-rate amenities, what seems to seamlessly underscore the residential experience at The St. Regis San Francisco is the unmatched service.
“Where the location is both sophisticated and urbane, what really makes The St. Regis San Francisco special is the level of service. The staff is friendly, professional without being forced and very human,” Richard Wollack says. “Every time we come and go, there is a friendly face and you never have to open a door. They just authentically care. Sue wasn’t feeling well one day and the staff took the initiative and had soup sent up. They even sent us chocolates on our anniversary. This level of service doesn’t happen every day.”
“The warm and inviting staff set you up for peace even before walking into your home,” Sue Wollack adds. “It’s similar to going on vacation and staying at a wonderful, welcoming hotel, except your own toothbrush is in the bathroom.”
Resident owners at The St. Regis San Francisco have access to the services and amenities of the hotel, including the concierge, hotel business center, 24-hour room service, fitness center, 9,000-square-foot Remède Spa and 50-foot lap pool.
“The pool is beyond gorgeous, the spa beyond relaxing, and the fitness center is amazing,” Sue Wollack says. “They always have fresh fruit, current newspapers and clean towels. They really pay attention to the details and it is never crowded. It’s a world-class facility.”
Perhaps The St. Regis San Francisco is best known for its renowned butler service, which is available to all private residents.
“That is the ultimate amenity,” Richard Wollack says of the service. “Quite honestly, there is nothing they won’t do for you. They even changed my wristwatch battery once. This butler team is beyond anything you can imagine, and what we think sets the St. Regis brand apart from any other.”
With this level of personal service, ideal locale and residential comfort, it is no surprise that Richard and Sue Wollack enjoy the “wow” factor on a daily basis.
“I just have one complaint about our experience at The St. Regis San Francisco,” Richard Wollack adds with a smile before joining his wife on their balcony for a glass of wine. “I have forgotten how to open a door.”