“A lot of the time your hotel check-in is the first impression a traveler gets,” says Julie Schwartzenberger, one-third of the familial trio that owns Atlantic Beach’s Hotel Palms. To her point, if a visitor’s first impression of the 904 is the minimal, bohemian lobby of Hotel Palms–or better yet, if that visitor happens to be checking-in while the Palms is hosting a concert, a food or coffee pop-up, or any iteration of one of its curated cultural gatherings–their stay in Northeast Florida will be one they don’t soon forget. 

In just three years since retrofitting a formerly austere motor court on Sherry Drive, Julie, along with her husband Greg and his sister Stevan Brown, have established the Palms as a destination for locals and visitors alike. With unique murals by surf-y artists like Ty WIlliams, Jason Woodside, and Ozzie Wright, the addition of a weekend coffee bar, and Thursday “Unlikely Local” happy hours, the hotel now fills several voids for residents of the beaches—cultural, gastronomic, etc. Meanwhile, for visitors to Northeast Florida, the Palms stands as a distinctive portal to the best the region has to offer. 

We asked Greg, Julie, and Stevan to talk more about what makes boutique motels and the 904 number one in their hearts.

Does a great region need great boutique motels? Why or why or not?  

Greg: In short, we say yes. Boutique motels are driven by design and experience, and when done correctly, should reflect the local vernacular. We strive to give our guests who stay with us the feeling that a resident of the community feels by living here. This is the same type of accommodation we look for when we are traveling. 

Julie: A lot of times your hotel check-in is the first impression a traveler gets of an area.   It gives our guests an authentic taste of what’s to come as they explore our area.   

Greg: The secret is to give the guests exactly what they are looking for even if they can’t articulate that themselves.  It’s a feeling or an emotion. Then they leave inspired. We couldn’t think of a better way to showcase a community and local culture.   

Stevan: Boutique hotels drive community. Look at the ACE Hotel in New York and Portland; their combination of hospitality and coffee culture transformed hotel lobbies into communal work spaces.

Greg
Julie
Stevan

What’s the best part about running a hotel in Northeast Florida? 

Greg: Combining my lifestyle and my work seamlessly. Meeting new people everyday; everyone has a story. Also, telling our guests the story of our community and about the history of Northeast Florida.

Julie: I agree with Greg on the seamless integration of our work life into our day-to-day lifestyle. Also, seeing our guests inspired and enjoying a space that we spent many months envisioning and creating gives me such joy. When our guests experience The Hotel Palms, they are meeting a little piece of us.

Stevan: Bringing a passion for the boutique hotel industry to our local community and always looking for new ways to generate brand awareness locally, and nationally. 

Why host music and art and pop-up food/beverage events at a hotel? In other words, why weren’t you satisfied with simply renting rooms to vacationers and stay-cationers? 

Greg: It’s all layers of a cake. We want to get better every day and that morphs throughout many different contexts. We are so passionate and grateful for what we get to do and the opportunity  to use the hotel as a platform for artists and creatives to offer their craft and talents to both our guests and the community seemed natural. It also goes back to offering an experience. Our community is very warm and welcoming to visitors, and mixing guests and locals just adds to the adventure.  

Aliens have come to earth and are threatening to destroy the 904. As our chosen ambassadors, you must convince these hostile invaders that our region is worth preserving. You get two sentences. Go!  

Greg: You get the family rate at The Hotel Palms, and we will throw in a Show Pigeon coffee and a new tee and hat.

If you had a magic wand and could use it to give the 904 one thing that it’s currently missing, what would that be?  

Greg: A new concert venue at the beach.  

Julie: A comedy cellar with legit acts. 

Stevan: Turtle Island Market [defunct Neptune Beach vegetarian grocer]. I wish they would bring it back!

Here are the complete results of our #1 in the 904 Business and Services poll

Apartment / Condo Complex

SOLA Luxury Apartments

Auto Detailer

Wash Ninja

Bait and Tackle Shop 

B&M

Bank/Credit Union

Vystar

Bed and Breakfast

Riverdale Inn

Biggest Heart – Charitable Person

Michelle Nifong

Boutique Motel

Hotel Palms 

Car Wash

Beaches Car Wash 

Cell Phone Repair

10,000 Cell Phones 

Charity 

Lutheran Social Services

Electric Company

Happy Cat Electric 

Electrician

Rob Lassetter – Happy Cat Electric

Entrepreneur (female)

Ashley Hanna (Titanium Yoga)

Entrepreneur (male)

Dominick Felix

Estate Sale Company

Old Cool Toys 

Event Planner

Coastal Coordinating 

Event Venue

The Glass Factory

Farm

Congaree & Penn

Financial Advisor

Dan Abel – Abel Wealth Management

Firearm Training

Shooters

Head Shop

Wade’s World 

Home Builder, Contractor

Horn Builders 

Hotel

One Ocean

HVAC Company (Heat & A/C)

Donovan

Insurance Agency

Brightway Insurance Ponte Vedra

Insurance Agent

Katie Little – Allstate 

Interior Decorator

KMH Design 

Lawyer 

Sabrina Kuruvilla – Three Oaks Law

Mechanic

Jeepherder 4×4

Mortgage Lender

Bank of England Mortgage 

Mortgage Loan Officer

Troy Silhan

Motel

Hotel Palms 

Moving Company

Suddath 

Non-Profit

Beaches Go Green 

Office Design

Perdue Office Interiors

Pet Day Care

Pooches Playhouse 

Photo Booth

iPhotoBooth

Physical Therapy Company

Brooks Rehab

Place to work

Suddath 

Plumber

Sweeney Remodeling & Reconstruction 

Private Investigator

JMA 

Real Estate Agency

Root Realty 

Real Estate Professional

Amy Terry-Bartlett w/ Watson Realty

Roofer

Reliant Roofing 

Safe Ride Home

Jax Swagger Wagon

Surfboard Shaper 

Whisnant 

Tattoo Parlor

Florida Velvet

Title Company 

J. Riley Williams PLC

Veterinarian

Tie: Forever Vets, Beaches Animal Clinic 

Water

Alphapure

Yard Services/Lawn Care

Trucut