A nearly-hundred-year-old hotel has recently opened after closing for about 50 years, making many people surprised and curious. Hotel Elkhart, the north Indiana hotel, has just welcomed guests back at the end of September this year for the first time since closing in the early 1970s.
It was thought to be seemingly forgotten and likely to be replaced by newer works, but the Hotel Elkhart building was carefully repaired and improved to once again appear as a hotel like so many years ago.
The old days
Hotel Elkhart was built in 1923 with a restaurant, a coffee shop and many meeting spaces. It was considered as the first boutique hotel in Elkhart city, and used to be a hub for politicians, business leaders, leisure and business travelers. The nearly-century-old hotel was no stranger to famous historical figures such as former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, television personality Ed Sullivan, or American soldier “legend”, actor and songwriter Audie Murphy. There is no wonder that Hotel Elkhart has become the pride of those living in Elkhart.
Ed Sullivan (in the middle) and his guests at Hotel Elkhart. (Photo credit: Hotel Elkhart)
The building functioned as a hotel until the early 1970s. Then, it was utilized as an office building and apartment complex. It has also housed several restaurants and retail stores. Gradually, the building deteriorated, disrepaired and was no longer popular. Therefore, investors decided to renovate and turn it into a hotel like long before with a modern and new look.
The renovation was led by 2 companies including Cressy Commercial Real Estate and Mno-Bmadsen owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians tribe. The project also received support from government entities, including the Elkhart city’s authority.
The revival after 5 decades
Hotel Elkhart was renovated starting in 2018 at a cost of 23 million USD, and was supposed to reopen in 2020. However, the global impact of the Covid-19 epidemic prevented the construction work. On September 28, 2021, the hotel officially opened once again to welcome tourists to check-in after 5 decades. Hotel Elkhart is now a part of the Tapestry Collection of hospitality group Hilton.
In order to keep up with the new trends as well as get the attention of customers, the Hotel Elkhart’s leadership has made great efforts to take care and invest carefully in this property right from the beginning of its construction.
Build and develop a Facebook fan page
Along with social media’s strong growth, Hotel Elkhart created a fan page of its name on Facebook to enhance interaction and reach more tourists around the world. Right from the beginning of the renovation, the hotel has updated many unique and interesting information around its history, giving people a better view of this age-old architecture.
The fan page has shared black and white photos of the building, postcards or advertisements about Hotel Elkhart from nearly a century ago. As a result, current generations feel like they can go back in time and experience the old space. Through each post, Hotel Elkhart’s followers will understand more about its name, the hotel’s very first insider design, and also see the photos of Robert Kennedy and Ed Sullivan visiting it, etc. The new photos after renovation have been fully updated here, bringing customers an objective perspective. Moreover, the fan page also introduced some leisure and cultural events as well as local festivals to attract more people to visit Elkhart for travel and stay at the hotel.
A postcard in 1926.
The rate of users interacting on the fan page has increased over time. By the opening day, Hotel Elkhart had a certain number of visitors. If not due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, the hotel would probably have welcomed more people.
Preserving the essence of the old architecture
Built up nearly one hundred years ago, Hotel Elkhart of course preserves a lot of the culture and architecture of the old era, which promises to make many people admire. That’s why most of the building’s historical elements have been kept, including the beautiful plaster ceilings in the lobby with intricate relief moldings, the terrazzo floors on the first-floor lobby, food and beverage spaces, the ballroom ceiling, or marble stairs, etc.
Artisans were invited here to restore the building thoughtfully and meticulously. Comparing the picture of Hotel Elkhart from the outside, there doesn’t seem to be a very big change between the past and the present.
Diversify services, and keep up with the trends
In addition to preserving the old values, the modernization as well as diversification of products and services are also essential for Hotel Elkhart to go with the times, and can easily bring customers back. The newly revamped nine-floor building has 93 guest rooms, two restaurants, a ballroom, meeting spaces and a rooftop bar.
Guest rooms’ area ranges from over 120 to over 167 square meters. All of them are equipped with modern items, using Amish wood furnishings and displaying local artworks. Main meals will be served by the restaurant alongside daily fresh-made desserts, breads and pastries. Crafted coffee uses locally roasted coffee beans. A bar offers high-end cocktails, and lite-fare dishes. Guests also have a chance to enjoy The High Note, the hotel’s rooftop bar with sights of downtown.
Additionally, the newly redesigned Aria Ballroom, Lyric, and Prelude located on the highest floor will accommodate larger groups of guests in some events such as weddings, birthday parties, corporate events or conferences. Hotel Elkhart also offers small meeting rooms for business travelers.
Local people or day-trippers who don’t need to stay but want to visit this historic hotel are also welcome at the restaurants and bars.
The event of an old hotel suddenly opening after decades is easy to attract curiosity. However, people often tend to visit a place only once when they’ve satisfied their curiosity and don’t see anything too special. Understanding that, Hotel Elkhart has soon maintained connections with potential customers on social media, as well as harmoniously combining classic looks with modernity and comfort to retain them. In the future, the hotel will probably offer many more diverse and unique options for their customers, not just based on the fact of reopening after 50 years.