Polaris at Hyatt Regency Atlanta to Reopen

One of Atlanta’s most iconic and recognizable structures is set to spin again.

Atlanta's Historic Hyatt Regency, Parasol Bar

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images A dramatic view through a portion of the suspended, petal-like roof of the Parasol Bar in the 22-story lobby of the Regency Hyatt House hotel circa 1967. The design marked the first time that a modern hotel had been centered around an atrium. 

Located underneath the unmistakable blue dome atop the 22-story Hyatt Regency, the rotating Polaris Lounge opened in 1967 and was once the crown jewel of the downtown Atlanta skyline. It was where many Atlantans got engaged, celebrated anniversaries and rang in the New Year. Designed by architect John Portman, Jr. it was also the world’s first atrium-centered hotel with a glass-enclosed elevator that whisked visitors to the futuristic lounge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Jim Morrison of the Doors, who was a guest in 1970, reportedly called the Polaris elevator “a Victorian rocket ship.” Morrison was in town for a film festival where he received a commemorative plaque. During the ceremony, he handed his Hyatt House room key to his female presenter, which apparently solicited big laughs.

Many other luminaries and Atlanta celebrities would follow in his footsteps. The Polaris was the place to be seen. In 1981 scenes for Sharky’s Machine starring Burt Reynolds were filmed there and business was brisk. That changed during the late 80s when the charm of downtown began to fade.

Ten years ago, Polaris sadly closed its doors and many feared its fate as larger buildings left the structure in its wake; however, the Hyatt was spared a razing. We’re personally thrilled that after an extensive $65 million renovation to the entire hotel, the cerulean saloon will ride again.

“It was really a symbol of Atlanta for the whole country, and we want that to be the case again,” said Walter Woods, marketing manager at Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

The success of Atlanta’s Dragon*Con, which draws 50,000 participants, has also breathed new life into the Hyatt Regency and it has become the default gathering spot for late night parties and other gatherings. Downtown and Midtown are also seeing a fantastic uptick in tourists and locals alike.

Set to reopen this spring, Woods said that while Polaris won’t be a museum to the past it will reflect a lot of the Old School style elements that once made it popular. Though we're not sure what will be on the menu yet, peach daiquiris, once the lounge's most popular drink, will be served. We think they should name a drink after Jim Morrison, perhaps called the Victorian Elevator or the Key to My Room.

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