Downtown El Paso’s newest hotel can trace its roots back to the 1960’s and that’s exactly what the new owners of the Hotel Indigo are banking on.
Located at 301 Main, the newly renovated Hotel Indigo proudly adds both El Paso and Downtown to its name as a means of tying the past and future of the facility together. Like a “Mad Men” set brought to life, the old Downtown Motor Inn, awaits its first guests in years; amid scurrying construction workers and the din of saws and sprayers.
Renovations on the facility started almost two years ago and are now nearing completion, with a soft opening scheduled for mid-December, to be followed by a Grand Opening in January.
On the main floor of the hotel, five stories up, scores of construction workers continued to place drywall and electrical conduits in what soon will be the check-in area.
Guests walking out of the elevators will be greeted with a grand vista of Downtown El Paso, with an outdoor pool and patio beckoning guest to enjoy the sun. The outdoor, rooftop pool was one of many architectural remnants that the new owners wanted to make a centerpiece of the renovation.
To the right, the nearly completed Mixology Bar – to be christened Circa 1963 – will have guests looking out over a cityscape one of the tour group members said reminded her of San Francisco.
Elsewhere in the hotel work continued on the two, soon-to-be revealed restaurants. Head Chef Jacob Hallberg excitedly talked about the opportunity to help launch the new venture.
“The key thing about this hotel…these restaurants…is that they will be local, from the vendors to the furniture to the art and even the honey from Fabens, it will all be from here.” Hallberg and his staff of 50 are busily training and cross-training ahead of the hotel and restaurant’s mid-December opening.
A smiling Hallberg did lament one thing about the run-up to the opening, “As Head Chef you like to spend time in the kitchen, but – right now – it’s more management than cooking…but that will change quick enough.” He added that the restaurants will feature “organic and homestyle food, with a casual atmosphere…just like El Paso.”
In addition to the bar and pool, the 5th floor also houses at 1100+ square foot meeting room, as well as a nearly 500 square foot board room, both set to be richly appointed with locally-sourced furniture and art.
As the tour made its way up to the 7th floor officials said the the challenge of the restoration was the all-new electrical that had to be put in place, as well as all the mechanical updates; city inspections and permits added to the timeline, pushing back the opening date from September to December.
However, hotel officials say the original structure was key to the restoration, as one official said during Thursday morning’s tour, “the old hotel had great bones…we just wanted to make sure everything else could be made just as good, if not better.
It’s that structure, the east-west placement of the building, that gives the hotel it’s distinctive look. Large picture windows allow patrons to look out on the rails yard and the Franklins in the east; while those staying in the west-facing rooms have the mountains looming over Juarez, framing the city’s century-spanning classic architecture
“If you notice, each room has an exposed beam,” Denise Acuna, Director of Sales pointed out, “that’s the heart of the building showing through, allowing us to add to the modern design of the hotel.” Built around those beams are exquisitely decorated rooms, each packed with references, pictures and even furniture with a local connection.
Hotel General Manager Miguel Diaz notes that blend of styles continues the hotel’s mission of being all about El Paso. “From the metal desks that are built in Fabens, to the prints by locals artists on the wall, we want this hotel to say ‘this is El Paso and Juarez’.”
Around those beds are touches from different decades: the 1960’s flair of a floor to ceiling lamp, right next to a large 21st Century flatscreen TV.
The color palette is also decidedly borderland: rich blues blend into greens and beige on the walls, and even on the interior of closets.
Diaz and Acuna summed up the Indigo’s purpose, in addition to providing lodging and food for travelers, they said the hotel’s main goal will be putting El Paso first.
As Acuna said, looking out over the nearly-completed pool, “From top to bottom, when you stay in our hotel, you’ll know this is El Paso, and how proud were are to be a part of the community.”