Carmel leaders eagerly are counting down the days to early May, when the much-anticipated Hotel Carmichael is set to open.
With the debut strategically set for a month before the International Making Cities Livable conference comes to town, Carmel Redevelopment Director Henry Mestetsky said work to complete the 122-room, six-story hotel is on track to meet that deadline.
“We started building and we haven’t slowed down for a day,” he said. “You’ve got to get the train rolling. Once the train is rolling you’re rolling toward the grand opening. The sales director has already been successful in booking rooms and weddings.”
Setting the tone
The Carmel City Council approved the sale of $18 million in bonds to fund the project in late 2017, and at the time the city was negotiating with banks for a city-backed loan to cover an additional $22 million, bringing the project cost to $40 million. When the city closed on the $25.5 million loan in April 2019, it brought the total funding for the project to $43.5 million.
Mestetsky did not confirm whether the project is on budget. He said he is “working out some of those details” and did not expect to have numbers available this month.
The public-private partnership to develop the hotel is a joint venture between Carmel and City Center developer Pedcor. Carmel will receive 66 percent of profits for 10 years and 50 percent of profits thereafter. Mestetsky said the city’s goal is to sell its stake in the hotel to the private sector at some point. He said it’s in the city’s interest to play a direct role in developing some of the key buildings in its core.
“We need to set the tone for what we expect developers to also do,” he said. “Sometimes the city gets involved in the beginning then sells its share once the market realizes and invests in that as well.”
A classic design
A longtime vision of Mayor Jim Brainard, construction on the 111,234-square-foot hotel in Carmel City Center near City Center Drive and Range Line Road began in October 2018. With two restaurants and several gathering spaces available for the public, Mestetsky said it’s designed for travelers and local residents to enjoy.
“Part of the vision for this hotel is that this is the city’s lobby. This is the city’s hotel,” he said. “(We want to invite people to) please come have a drink, sit by the fire. It’s all part of it.”
The hotel contains 4,500-square-feet of meeting space, including two boardrooms and a ballroom for bigger events. That space is surrounded by large windows and a wraparound porch to provide views of the Palladium and Carmel’s rapidly developing core.
Inspired in part by the work of 18th century architect Robert Adam, the hotel’s design serves as a transition from the Palladium across the Monon Trail to the west and the rest of the adjacent City Center development.
“(This type of architecture) doesn’t go out of style, which is what I think the Palladium nails as well,” Mestetsky said. “One hundred years from now people will say, ‘This thing is amazing.’ That’s the hope for this hotel as well.”
One unique design feature of the hotel is its two main entrances. Guests can enter from the Monon Trail at the building’s lowest floor or near the motorcourt on the main floor and be naturally directed to the check-in area, which will have a 12-foot mural of a female singer as the backdrop.
Music – specifically the Great American Songbook – is the theme of the hotel’s artwork. Each hotel in Marriott’s Autograph Collection has its own brand, Mestetsky said, and in Carmel it made sense to focus on music with the Palladium next door.
All of the details have been painstakingly considered, from the gold-colored thread running through the curtains to the stylishness and functionality of bathroom doors. Even the artwork in the guestrooms is more than it might appear. For example, a painting of music notes that will hang in some of the rooms is a song by Ira Gershwin, Mestetsky said.
“There’s meaning behind all of that,” he said.
Guests will have two dining options at Hotel Carmichael.
The more upscale restaurant, Feinstein’s, is the fourth in the nation by entertainer Michael Feinstein. It will have space for 150 guests with entertainment programmed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Feinstein – whose first name and his part-time home of Carmel are the inspiration for the name of the hotel – is expected to perform there a couple of times per year.
Other big names could make appearances, too, Mestetsky said.
“There will be acts that will come here for the intimacy of what the club would be,” he said. “It doesn’t preclude someone like Michael (Feinstein) from playing both the Palladium and here. It’s a different type of show. It’s a much more intimate show, so I think we could have that with multiple acts.”
The other restaurant – Vivante – will feature light French fare. Mestetsky said it will be designed as a place for pedestrians to stop for a bite.
“I want someone to be on the Monon and decide to grab lunch and walk into here,” he said. “It’s not supposed to be stuffy. It’s supposed to be inviting. Ultimately this (project) is a revenue generator, so we’re not here to keep anybody out.”