As an enemy of cookie-cutter hotels, I'm happy to say that the great big Hyatt corporation is making a stand for individuality. Its 204th hotel, the Elliott Grand Hyatt Seattle, is a 425-room tower that feels like a giant boutique hotel (721 Pine St.; 206-262-0700). It's jazzy and slick, with a de Kooning sculpture out front; a brick facade that fades from dark to light as it ascends, in a fashionable sort of ombré effect; a 3,800-square-foot health club; a technology concierge; and rooms furnished with bubinga wood, travertine and lamps made by local glass artists. And for its restaurant, 727 Pine, Hyatt has chosen a chef with a strong sensibility of her own: Danielle Custer, a 1998 F&W Best New Chef and the subject of our Fourth of July story.

The Elliott isn't the first hotel to carry the Hyatt name but still retain a personality. The Melbourne Park is glitzy in an appealing way, with a happening restaurant, Radii. Then there's the Shanghai Grand, the world's tallest hotel, with its 87th-floor restaurant. The Hong Kong Grand harbors China's biggest sake collection; the D.C. Park, in Washington, D.C., original Matisses and Picassos.

If big hotel chains want the baby boomers' business, they've learned, they have to do something impressive with their restaurants. In this regard, I'm pleased to note that Hyatt's new corporate policy seems to be to showcase F&W Best New Chefs: NoMI, the restaurant of the Park Hyatt Chicago, has Sandro Gamba of the 2001 crop at the stove.

-K. S.