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New Downtown Detroit boutique hotel opening soon
Added By: Sally Fielding

The Detroit Foundation Hotel, in the former Detroit Fire Department headquarters across the street from Cobo Center, is set to open in May. The modern design, 100-room hotel is part of a bigger plan by hoteliers to redevelop downtown buildings and offer more upscale rooms for guests attending the annual auto show, conventions and other events.

"It’s an incredible time in Detroit and we’re excited and honored that Foundation Hotel will have the opportunity to play a role in the city’s story,” said Mario Triccoci, co-founder and CEO of Aparium Hotel Group. “In creating this hotel, we are collaborating with local makers, artists and innovators to introduce a true Detroit experience for both locals and visitors."

The new hotel developments in Detroit are driven, in part, by increasing convention business and a rebounding auto industry, as well as more downtown entertainment venues, such as casinos and sports complexes. The hotels also are being built to satisfy a growing national demand from younger travelers who prefer staying in urban areas rather than the suburbs, and in smaller, cozier boutique hotels, instead of large chain hotels, said Chuck Skelton, president of Hospitality Advisors Consulting Group in Ann Arbor.

"The younger generation that is traveling isn't necessarily loyal to their Hiltons, Marriotts, and Holiday Inns," he said. "They are looking for something a little different and these hotels provide that. I was asked not too long ago how many hotels could be absorbed. At 100 rooms at a time, I think you could do that for a while as long as they are well-located, well-done and well-managed."

If there is a cost, he added, it likely will come in lower occupancy rates in suburban hotels, particularly Dearborn.

Other hotel projects include: Aloft Detroit, a 136-room hotel that opened in the David Whitney Building off Woodward; and three planned ventures, the Wurlitzer Hotel, a 100-room, $20-million makeover of the Wurlitzer Building at 1509 Broadway; West Elm Hotel, a planned 120-room hotel in Midtown at Cass and Canfield; and the Shinola Hotel, a 130-plus room hotel in downtown Detroit off Woodward.

The Detroit Foundation Hotel hasn't set an official date yet for its opening, but Expedia — an online booking site — is already taking reservations for as early as May 12 for 300-square-foot rooms with rates starting at about $200. The hotel also will have suites and rooms with views of the Detroit River. The 95,000-square-foot hotel is aiming at a high-end modern feel, but to keep some of the old building's classic touches and firehouse features such as red arched doors and historic glazed brick tiles.

Room features will include reclaimed and repurposed moldings and fordite. Fordite — often referred to as Detroit agate and Motor agate — is automobile paint that is hardened, cut and polished so the layers of colors look like agate stones. Furnishings also will be automotive-inspired, the hotel said.

Aparium, the Chicago-based group which owns and manages the Detroit Foundation Hotel, was founded in 2011. It includes seven hotels nationally, with three more scheduled to open this year or next.

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