Despite the pandemic, Vision Hospitality Group plans to open more than a half dozen hotels this year, including the Kinley Chattanooga Southside on Market Street on Thursday.
While the Kinley and the other hotels were already in the pipeline when the pandemic hit about a year ago, Vision Chief Executive Officer Mitch Patel said Tuesday he believes the worst is over.
"Our industry is poised to rebound and thrive soon," he said, though adding that it's going to take years to get back to where it was in 2019.
The Kinley hotel, which sits across Market Street from the Chattanooga Choo Choo, is a $14 million, 64-room boutique hotel that is a new brand created by locally based Vision.
Patel, during a tour of the four-level hotel, said the name is derived from the idea of kinship. The aim is to immerse guests in the people, food, art and history of Chattanooga's Southside, he said.
"It's really an important pillar," he said. "We want to be the living room of the neighborhood."
For example, all the art work in the hotel comes from local artists who are women, Patel said. While the art wasn't planned to come from all women, he believes it's a first at a hotel in the U.S.
Also, a coffee bar at the front of the modern lobby features brews from Chattanooga's Goodman Coffee Roasters, and it's a place where not just hotel guests but anyone in the city can frequent, Patel said.
A bar to serve alcohol in the rear of the Kinley offers patrons a look at what hotel guests 100 years ago might have seen in a similar venue near the then train station where the Choo Choo now sits, he said.
Lynn Mucciano, Vision's vice president of sales and marketing, said the hotel's team is knowledgeable of the neighborhood.
She said that Michael DiMaria, the hotel's general manager, lives nearby, as do a number of other employees.
Patel said the timing was right for Vision, which operates about 40 properties in seven states, to have a presence in downtown's Southside. Over the past three or four years, more businesses and residents have come to the area and it flourished, he said.
"That's when the magic starts," Patel said.
DiMaria said the foot traffic starts in the area early in the morning, and there's still activity at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
"One of the best things of the Southside is that it's so pedestrian," Mucciano said.
The Kinley at 1409 Market St. will offer valet parking to guests. Patel said it has an agreement to park in CARTA's garage across Market.
The hotel's price point for its rooms will be less than Vision's Edwin Hotel near downtown's riverfront, he said. While that lodging product is more upscale, the Kinley's rooms are expected to go in the low $100 per night range, Patel said.
Plans are to introduce the brand into other markets as well, he said. One opened recently in Cincinnati, and he foresees more in mid-size cities such as Chattanooga. What the hotel will bring is "a great bed" and hot showers with good pressure, Patel said.
The color scheme on the room floors has a lot of green to reflect the outdoors around Chattanooga, he said.
About eight of rooms in the hotel offer bunk beds, which Patel expects to be attractive to families with children or groups of adults who wish to split the cost of a room.
The hotel executive said that the industry has learned to deal with the coronavirus and follows the Centers for Disease Control recommendations. Each room has its own heating and air-conditioning system, he said.
"We've know so much more today," Patel said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.