MEMPHIS — The Guest House at Graceland doesn’t scream Elvis, but there’s no escaping his sense of style in the new Memphis resort hotel.
From a lobby ceiling evoking his bejeweled cape to lightning bolt-motif lamps to a replica of Graceland’s staircase, the 450-room resort is a contemporary translation of the late singer’s aesthetic.
“It’s basically his personal style, and of course, it’s inspired by Graceland,” said Priscilla Presley, his former wife. “You don’t have pictures of Elvis everywhere, but you do have his style: a little bit of his jumpsuit, his guitar, TCB, his belt. But it’s not in your face.” The letters TCB with lightning bolts (Taking Care of Business – In a flash) comprise Elvis’ motto.
The $92 million hotel marks its “soft opening” in private events Thursday before hosting a full house of VIPs this weekend. The hotel, lobby and restaurants will open to the public on Sunday afternoon.
There was a whirlwind of activity Wednesday at 3600 Elvis Presley Boulevard as workers put finishing touches on the building and grounds and members of an exclusive fan club checked in. Crews from the Today show and Entertainment Tonight filmed segments that will air Thursday.
Priscilla Presley, who helps manage their only child Lisa Marie Presley’s interest in Graceland and the Elvis estate, believes Elvis would be pleased.
“I think he too would absolutely be blown away by the attention to detail, the attention to color and the lightness of it all. It’s not heavy. It’s not dark. It’s stylized, and he was always a man of style. It has that little extra touch that he always had,” Presley said.
“It’s warm, and it has that Southern hospitality look and feel,” she continued. “That’s something Elvis always had in his home.”
Graceland, a Southern colonial-style structure next door to The Guest House, has been open to public tours since 1982, five years after he died there. Some detractors have turned up noses at its 1970s decor, which is dated by the very nature of a house museum.
But Keith Hess, vice president and managing director of The Guest House, said Elvis was merely ahead of his time.
“If Elvis was living today, this would be his style: very contemporary, cutting edge. In fact, there are lots of pieces here that are almost what he had in the mansion 40 years ago. You know, he was that far ahead of the curve on this contemporary (design),” Hess said.