Chattanooga's newest boutique hotel opens Thursday overlooking the Walnut Street Bridge and city's redeveloped waterfront and art district.
Known as The Edwin, the 90-room hotel downtown includes a locally-inspired, ground-floor restaurant known as the Whitebird, a rooftop bar known as the Whiskey Thief and a 5th floor conference facility for special events named for the late Ruth Holmberg, a former publisher of The Chattanooga Times.
The new $27 million facility also includes a coffee and snack shop known as Provisions and the Ama spa. Hotel guests may also enjoy a library, community room, an indoor workout facility and an outdoor patio with a pool on the rooftop overlooking the city.
"We want the Edwin to be an inviting place for both hotel guests and the local community," said Greg Bradley, general manager for the Edwin. "Like the bridge that connects both sides of the river, we want to be a place where people can connect, relax and experience Chattanooga. This offers people a chance to have a unique and authentic lodging experience in what we think is one of the nicest hotels in the Southeast."
The new hotel was developed and is owned by Vision Hospitality Corp., the Chattanooga-based hotel chain that operates 33 other hotels under major Marriott and Hilton brands. The Edwin is the most expensive per-room hotel yet developed by Vision Hospitality and unlike Vision's other inns, the Edwin is distinctive for Chattanooga and is designed to tell the Chattanooga story.
Located on Walnut Street on the south end of the Walnut Street Bridge, the Edwin is named for Edwin Thatcher, the architect of the iconic Walnut Street Bridge that opened in 1891.
Hotel rooms will rent from $250 to $400 a night - and even more for the third floor suites that overlook the river and bridge. Dinner specialty entrees in the Whitebird will range from $25 up to $59, but the 114-seat restaurant will also offer a variety of menu options at breakfast and lunch.
The Whiskey Thief will showcase a number of special drinks designed just for the Edwin and the outdoor seats around the tavern offer panoramic views of the Walnut Street Bridge, Hunter Museum of Art and other downtown attractions.
"We want this to be a place where Chattanoogans will feel comfortable and relaxed and see and experience the great renaissance of the city," said Mitch Patel, president of Vision Hospitality which has worked on designing and building the hotel over the past couple of years.
The hotel showcases nearly 200 pieces of art by 70 local artists, including artwork in each hotel room. At the entrance of the new hotel, a butterfly display in the shape of the Tennessee River is designed to represent the metamorphosis of Chattanooga's downtown and its waterfront over the past three decades since Vision Hospitality began in 1997.
"There will never be another Edwin - this is a truly unique hotel designed just for Chattanooga," said Reggie Piercy, senior vice president of operations at Vision Hospitality. "There is a lot hidden discovery in what we have designed here so I think there will be something new each time you come back."
Piercy said the Edwin is the first of a new boutique line of hotels for Vision and will be marketed as part of the the Autograph Collection Hotels brand. Other boutique hotels are under development for Vision Hospitality in Cincinnati, Louisville and another project on the Southside of Chattanooga, Piercy said.
Vision Hospitality is also opening a Hampton Inn hotel in East Ridge and a Hilton Garden Inn in Memphis later this year.
"When you build a courtyard or other franchised inn, you have everything in the hotel, right down to the hotel's signage and stationary," Piercy said. "But when you build a boutique hotel like the Edwin, you start out with an empty box."
The Edwin has hired a staff of 105 employees for Thursday's opening.
Kevin Korman, the hotel's executive chef, said he has developed a unique "elevated southern" or "progressive Appalachian" menu for the Whitebird, which derives its name from the Cherokee name of John Ross, one of Chattanooga's founders. The Whitebird, which opens this afternoon, will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. for breakfast, lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340