Hotel Indigo opens; features local artwork

Hotel Indigo opens; features local artwork

Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2009
By Don Nelson

Hotel Indigo opened quietly in downtown Athens this weekend, providing complimentary rooms Friday to some of the workers who helped build the College Avenue hotel and hosting corporate staff Saturday night.

Rialto Property Partners of Atlanta, the developer and owner of Hotel Indigo, held a “soft opening” but would have offered rooms to paying customers as well, said Rialto managing partner Barry Rutherford.

“We wanted to give the hotel’s management staff an opportunity to practice with non-paying guests,” Rutherford said. “We figured (these) guests will be a little more forgiving.”

Rialto invested more than $20 million in the 130-room hotel, which meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines as outlined by the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage environmentally friendly construction.

Hotel Indigo, located at 500 College Ave. just north of downtown, features a cafe and bistro, an art gallery managed by Mercury Art Works of Athens, a fitness center and a 7,000-square-foot private concert hall that can be rented for events like wedding receptions.

The hotel has 12 suites, and three of them can be configured into a three-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot penthouse.

The new hotel is categorized as a “boutique” property, Rutherford said.

“A boutique hotel is really a kind of a nontraditional hotel; you basically have custom-designed everything that is in the hotel,” Rutherford said. “So you’re not using standard furniture; you’re not using a standard design such as a Marriott Courtyard or a Hampton Inn.”

Boutique lodging usually caters to the affluent and features a trendy decor.

Hotel Indigo emphasizes the Athens music and art scene in the theme of its decor, Rutherford said.

Mercury Art Works arranged for the hotel to display local artwork in its gallery and throughout the building. The works include a large buffalo sculpture by R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe.

Besides tapping into Athens’ sensibilities, the new hotel will add to the community’s economic base, said Doc Eldridge, president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The property taxes on it will be significant, they will provide payroll jobs and the money that will churn through there will have a major impact,” Eldridge said.

The hotel will have 34 full- and part-time employees, Rutherford said.

Room rates range from $149 to $199 a night, though on University of Georgia football weekends, rooms will go for $395 with a two-night minimum, he said.

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