TN Travel Guide
Printer's Alley, soon to be home to a Virgin, an Ace and... a Witherspoon?
Perhaps it was the ludicrously over the top travel experiences offered to the Oscars nominees in their party packages. Perhaps she wanted some luxury after the wilds of Wild. Whatever – rumor has it this week that Reese Witherspoon is to open a hotel in Nashville.
US Weekly claims that Witherspoon and husband Jim Toth have been down “a few times to look at properties”, and have already met an architect and decorator (before they buy? Dedication).
Construction on the 240-room hotel is supposed to happen this spring and when it's all finished, the property will boast not just a super futuristic look from Atlanta-based BLUR Workshop, (as opposed to the historic bank building look in Chicago) but also a rooftop pool, restaurants, shops, 15 for-sale penthouse residences and, wait for it...a recording studio.
That was to be expected given that the Virgin company started out as a record shop, and this hotel is opening at the start of Music Row. But still, kind of awesome.
Hotel Development / Nashville Hotels / Ace Hotels / Edition Hotels / 21c Museum Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Rumors / → All Tags
Exciting times are ahead for Nashville’s hotel scene. In particular, the city's boutique otel scene is really coming up. Already, there's a Virgin, Thompson and Kimpton in the works, but now we've learned there's an Ace and an Edition coming as well.
How do we know this? The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation has released a "cheat sheet" of new Downtown/Midtown hotels in the works, most of them opening in the city's coolest neighborhoods. But don’t pack your bags yet, as many of these hotels are years from completion, with some still under speculation. And we all know that anything can happen in hotel development, not the least of which is a flag change.
Still, it's hard for us not to want to grab a partner and do-so-do with excitement. Here's what has us skipping in our cowboy boots this morning:
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Memphis Hotels / Graceland Hotels / Elvis Presley / Music Hotels / → All Tags
Turns out we’re not the only ones getting all shook up about the forthcoming Guesthouse at Graceland – Priscilla Presley will be attending the groundbreaking ceremony on 14 August. How great thou art, Priscilla.
The ceremony will be part of Elvis Week, which runs August 8-17 and which will also see the unveiling of a new iPad tour of Graceland (suspicious minds might say Priscilla is stealing top billing away from John Stamos, who’s narrated the iPad tour).
Lace up your blue suede shoes because you might get all shook up by this news – looks like Graceland is going to get a huge new hotel.
Elvis Presley Enterprises, the King’s estate, has received approval for a 450-room hotel to take up a whopping 24 acres of land just north of Graceland, on the same side of Elvis Presley Blvd.
The Guesthouse at Graceland is tentatively scheduled for a August 2015 opening – just in time for the 38th anniversary of Elvis’
so-called death on August 16.
Local architects Hnedak Bobo Group is in charge of the $70m project, and behind the cutesy-looking façade with its Graceland-Grecian-style façade (white columns, black shutters) will be a restaurant, sports bar, exhibition building, theater and meeting/event space. Hopefully “sports bar” is code for “Elvis impersonator bar” – the idea of going to Graceland to hang out in a sports bar is properly Heartbreak Hotel. (Speaking of the actual Heartbreak Hotel, currently the nearest hotel to Graceland, according to Memphis Daily News reporter Bill Dries, the estate will close this once the Guesthouse opens.)
The Virgin Hotel in Nashville, which is set to open at One Music Row in 2016, has not even been built yet but is already suffering from some ED issues--Ex-Developer issues.
The Tennessean reports that developer David Chase, executive vice president of D.F. Chase Inc. and the lead developer behind the Virgin Hotel, was arrested last week for twice assaulting his girlfriend. In one day. Chase faces charges of aggravated assault by strangulation, vandalism and interference with a 911 call.
The investors behind the Virgin project are now trying to figure out how to get Chase to "step aside" but his ownership stake in the lot where the hotel will go up has complicated matters. Still, a Virgin spokesperson gave this statement to the Tennessean: "We are aware of the situation and while we cannot comment on a pending investigation, we have no tolerance for domestic violence."
Meanwhile, construction on the hotel was to start this summer but that could be delayed until a new developer is found.
[Photo: Nashville CVB]
It's not just high-flying Virgins that are headed to Nashville, but museum lovers too.
According to Tennessean, a landmark building in Downtown Nashville has been sold at auction to 21c Museum Hotels. It must have been meant to be, as it was reportedly the 21st bid (of $6.8 million) that won the luxury boutique hotel and restaurant group its new Nashville digs.
This will be the 5th hotel following Louisville, Cincinnati, Bentonville and Durham (due to open in early 2015.) The hotel group also plans to expand into Lexington; in an historic bank designed by McKim Mead and White; Oklahoma City, in a former Ford Model T plant, and Kansas City; in a redevelopment of the Savoy Hotel and Grill. Each of these future hotels sound so great we had to mention them.
The Nashville property, located at 222 Third Avenue North, dates to the 1890s and is a registered national landmark. It was most recently used as office space and will need some work to convert it to a luxury boutique hotel. But taking on an historic building and bringing out its character are what make the 21c Hotels so appealing. With the exception of Bentonville, which is a new build, each of the 21c hotels was uniquely developed as an adpative reuse.
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You can probably thank Taylor Swift for the latest announcement from Virgin Hotels. The burgeoning hotel brand has just revealed they will open a new hotel in Nashville in 2016 in a pretty prime location--One Music Row.
Virgin Hotels Nashville will have 240 guest rooms, multiple "concept" suites, along with food and beverage outlets and perhaps most necessary of all, a cutting edge recording studio.
“Based on its nonstop cultural and live events, food and beverage scene, and its ability to inspire both talented artists and TV viewers, Nashville’s time is now – and we’d like to be part of that excitement,” said Sir Richard Branson. “Virgin Hotels will be our first venture in Nashville, and we’ll look at other opportunities for our US and international customers to enjoy the southern hospitality that Nashville is known for.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Hotels Chicago is apparently just "months away from opening" according to Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels. After that, Virgin has its eyes set on NYC, Boston, Dallas, LA, Miami, San Fran, DC and London.
We don't think we need to say it again but it bears repeating, "Hurry up because we can't hardly wait."
[Photo: Nashville CVB]
The historic Farragut Building in Knoxville, Tennesee, may be reverted back to its original use as a popular downtown hotel. The Beaux Arts building, constructed in 1919, was the original home of The Farragut Hotel, replacing an earlier hotel on the same site. Northern California-based Halo Hospitality Group has stepped forward with a proposal to convert the building to a 190-room full service hotel.
The hotel’s location, at 530 South Gay Street, sits within a larger historic district in Downtown Knoxville that is recorded in the National Register of Historic Places. The Farragut Hotel was named after Navy Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, a Tennessee native whose 60+ year naval career began when he was nine-years old (so says Wikipiedia. Guess they didn't have any age restrictions back then. Regarded as a hero many times over, why not have a hotel in his honor?
Local news archives say the hotel has hosted some pretty important guests over the years from Babe Ruth to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Halo Hospitality has made it clear they wish to restore the hotel to its former glory which is great news for Knoxville locals and visitors alike.
Dolly Parton already has a rather successful theme park in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee called, Dollywood, but what she doesn't have is a resort to go along with it. However, that may change in a few years as the busty country singer is working on a $300 million resort idea called DreamMore.
Parton said the resort will be adjacent to the park and will start with 300 rooms. It will also be family-friendly featuring front porch spaces, a fishing pond for children to go fishing and fire pits for roasting marshmallows. Guests will be greeted with lemonade in the summer months and hot chocolate in the winter months. And of course, every theme park resort needs a massive pool area and DreamMore is no exception with both indoor and outdoor pools.
We aren't sure if the guest room beds will feature Dolly Parton blankets but you will be able to stay in Dolly's Suite Dreams, a "celebrity" suite on the top floor of the resort.
If all goes well, DreamMore resort, which is under construction now, should open by Summer of 2015. Yee-haw!
While Hotel Indigo has been making great strides internationally--the just-opened Hotel Indigo Hong Kong and its dragon-wrapped exterior recently won an award for best hotel architecture--the brand is still growing here in the U.S., with a third Chicago hotel coming next year and at least another 20 hotels in the pipeline. Yet there are still so many existing Hotel Indigos to explore, like the Hotel Indigo Nashville which just finished an ultra-cool renovations.
On April 4 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated while standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. Since that day, the hotel has found new life as the National Civil Rights Museum, an impressive collection of photographs, videos and written accounts chronicling the history of the civil rights movement.
As historic hotels go, they don't come much more important than this place. And now the museum is adding to its repertoire.
Though room 306 has always been open to visitors (everything, from the furniture, curtains, carpet, rotary telephone and current newspaper, has been recreated to make the room look exactly the way it did when Dr. King stayed there), that was as far as they could go. Which is still quite a profound experience, given how much time Dr. King spent in that particular room (he was no stranger to the motel—in fact, room 306 was nicknamed the King-Abernathy Suite in his honor, after so many repeat stays).