By John Schaffner

Buckhead welcomed the St. Regis Atlanta on April 14 with a fanfare of speeches by hotel and development executives and the flourish of the traditional sabering of the Champagne — the ceremonial act of opening a Champagne bottle with a saber that became popular just after the French Revolution.

Buckhead’s latest ultraluxury hotel and condominium residences, the St. Regis Atlanta stands 26 stories tall at 88 W. Paces Ferry Road as a long-awaited part of the Buckhead Plaza development at the corner of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry roads.

The $120 million hotel, developed by SR Development and designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates, features 151 guest rooms, 53 branded St. Regis condominiums, a nearly 8,000-square-foot Remede Spa, and nearly 17,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space.

The opening completes a five-year journey for developer Paul Freeman. “We’ve delivered something much greater than we ever could have imagined,” he said.

The St. Regis Atlanta is the first St. Regis in the Southeast and the chain’s 16th hotel worldwide. The mark was founded by John Jacob Astor in New York City more than a century ago, and the original St. Regis is still considered one of the world’s finest.

“We are proud to unveil the St. Regis Atlanta, offering our discerning global guests the iconic luxury, unmatched privilege and bespoke services for which the St. Regis brand is renowned,” said Paul James, the president of St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, a division of New York-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“I salute the team that has brought us this handsome property,” Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said. “I have lived in Buckhead 56 years. … You have added a 10-carat diamond to the community I love.”

The grand opening audience was about 150 development community representatives, civic leaders and those who have bought into the condos, as well as invited friends and the media, who were gathered on a rainy but clearing morning under the hotel’s porte-cochere and behind its grand fountain.

Wine director Herve Pennequin sabered a bottle of Champagne to christen the property, a time-honored St. Regis tradition that was done at every St. Regis worldwide simultaneously to celebrate the launch.

The St. Regis opens with its signature Paces 88 restaurant and will add Buckhead Life’s reinvented Pano’s in the fall.

Jonathan Jerusalmy, the hotel’s executive chef, is the former executive chef of the five-star St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., and executive banquet and sous chef at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Mark Alba, former executive chef at Food Studio and sous chef for Concentrics Restaurants and Canoe, has been named chef de cuisine.

Simon Rusconi, the hotel’s general manager, said the St. Regis received more than 15,000 applications for its 200 positions.

The St. Regis opens in a difficult economy, but James said its Buckhead location, tradition of customer loyalty and commitment to quality will help the hotel endure the downturn.

“You don’t build a hotel for what it will do in the next six months,” he said.