Anyone who has driven through the heart of downtown lately will notice that changes are afoot to the city skyline. Upon completion in April 2018, the Omni Hotel Louisville is destined to be the tallest hotel and third-tallest building in the city. The construction crew has just laid the 15th floor foundation, but there will be 30 stories in all. Sprawling from Second to Third, and Liberty nearly to Muhammad Ali, the ambitious project promises to promote Louisville as a world-class destination and add to the hype generated by our new Kentucky International Convention Center, which will also debut in 2018. In fact, it was Mayor Greg Fischer who first courted the hotel chain after he saw their wild success in Nashville back in the fall of 2013.

Omni Hotel Louisville is not just another hotel. “We wanted to make the design timeless and authentic to Louisville,” says Director of Sales and Marketing Eamon O’Brien. “We have 60 hotels throughout the United States, and every hotel needs to be unique and have that genuine and authentic color to match the destination. For a convention hotel, this is extremely unique,” he stresses. “At Omni, we love to tell stories. That’s what we want, as travelers, I feel. You want to go to a city and experience it like a local, so you can tell your family and friends about all that’s going on.”

In this edition of Perspectives, O’Brien gives us a glimpse of what’s to come and discusses how this exciting new venture will transform the city as it has in places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis.

Omni Hotel Louisville To Have ‘Kentuckian’ feel…

  • KY native Interior Designer Laura McCoy has selected every piece of furniture, fabric, art, and fixture to embody Louisville.
  • The aesthetic will include custom pieces like bourbon barrel shaped nightstands, Louisville Slugger lamps, and local artwork.
  • Floors 1-3 will be an “urban lifestyle market” with supermarkets, food outlets, alcoholic beverage retailers, and more.
  • A “secret” 60-seat speakeasy and bowling alley will be accessible through two hidden entrances.
  • Floors 4-16 will include 612 guestrooms and suites. Floors 17-30 will house 225 one and two-bedroom luxury apartments.
  • Local partners include Heine Brothers Coffee, Bob’s Steak and Chophouse, and others.

Omni Hotel appeals to business professionals, leisure travelers, and stay-cationers alike…

For today’s convention traveler, there will be plenty of natural light, tech connectivity, places to network, and 70,000 square-feet of contiguous exhibit space. “The response from local event planners has been fantastic,” O’Brien says. Given all the local touches, Omni Louisville is the perfect place for business professionals to hobnob and get to know all that Louisville has to offer.

For the stay-cation crowd and leisure travelers, there are posh amenities – like the urban lifestyle market. This portion of the hotel will include functional grocery stores, as well as six food and beverage outlets, accessible from the street and open to the public. There will be a flower shop on the corner of Third and Liberty; flatbread pizzas and 12-14 Kentucky craft beers at Iron Quarter; an inviting, open-air bar opening up to Liberty Street at The Hollow Square; and Heine Brothers, one of the city’s favorite local coffee shop.

The southeast corner of the building will have an outdoor pool, a hot tub, daybeds, cabanas, fire pits, small event space, and a rooftop café / bar with a cantilevered ceiling for use in all types of weather. The full-service Mokara Spa has been one of the top 50 spas in the country for the last two years. There you can have your hair and nails done, or get a massage and rejuvenate.

We’re excited for omni Louisville’s Grand Opening on April 7th, 2018. For more information, check out Facebook (Omni Louisville), Twitter (@omnilouisville), and Instagram (@omnilou). You can also follow Eamon O’Brien @eobourboncity on Instagram. his direct email is eamon.obrien@omnihotels.com if you would like to get involved with the project.

In this week’s episode of Perspectives, brought to you by Louisville’s Luxury Real Estate Brokerage, Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty, I’m speaking with Eamon O’Brien, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Omni Louisville, perhaps the newest and most exciting addition to the Louisville skyline in quite awhile.

Eamon, nice to meet you. Thanks for having me down today.

subscribe-via-itunesEamon: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

Greg: Well, it’s my pleasure. I don’t even know where to start here. This is such a huge project for Louisville. I’m sure it’s been in the works for a long time. Can you sort of give us the overview and then we can sort of dive into some of the particulars?

Eamon: Sure. As you can see it’s definitely active. Obviously we’re on a podcast, but anyone who’s driven through downtown can see that the hotel’s flying up. We’re finishing up the 13th and 14th floors now and they’re laying the foundation for what will be the 15th floor, which is really exciting. So we’re going to have, the whole structure is going to be 30 stories high, so floors one through three will be the podium level, what we call with all of our fruit and beverage outlets with the urban lifestyle market, the pool, the amenity deck and spa.

Then floors four to 16 will be the 612 guestrooms. You’re going to have the guestrooms and suites. Then floors 17 to 30 will be the 225 luxury rental apartments, the one and two bedroom apartments there. It will be a 30 story building, it’s going to be the third tallest in the city of Louisville, and the tallest hotel to date, so we’re really excited about that.

Greg: Where, actually, are we?

Eamon: We’re in the heart of downtown, between Second and Third Street, and then Liberty, and not quite Muhammad Ali, so almost two square blocks north to south, but not quite to Ali.

Greg: Once it’s all done, who are your neighbors going to be? If someone is driving down and they say I want to say close to…, what are you going to be close to?

Eamon: We are one block from Fourth Street Live. You have the Pendennis Club down and to our south, the Louisville Marriott to our north, and you’ll have the expressway down about half a mile east of us on 64, the new bridges that are completed in our city.

Greg: How long, I’m curious how this even gets started, a project this large. How many years ago was this thought up, and someone said let’s do this?

Eamon: The Mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer, that we all know, has been a huge supporter of Omni, and he came down initially to the Omni Nashville and saw that hotel, and was really taken back of how much of an impact that that hotel had on a city like Nashville. Obviously, as we all know, about two and a half hours south on I-65, and really wanted to figure out a deal to bring a hotel to Louisville.

It really started, that hotel opened in the fall of 2013, so shortly thereafter is when the initial conversation started. Our corporate team really started coming to Louisville in what we like to call our local immersion. Omni definitely believes in never staying the same, and that every hotel is different. We have 60 hotels throughout the United States, and every hotel needs to be unique and have that genuine and authentic color to whatever destination they’re in. That’s when the local immersion trips started.

Greg: Do those trips happen after the decision’s been made to definitely build a hotel, or is that more decision, if we’re going to do it, this is how we would do it, and then we’ll go back and crunch the numbers and see if it works?

Eamon: A little bit of both. Definitely, Omni wanted to make sure that, of course, the numbers make sense, both for the city and Omni, but at the same time definitely got their feet in the ground here in Louisville, going around to the local places, off the beaten path. Places here that Louisville is well known for, and understanding look, if we want to come to Louisville, we want to do it right. We want to have that genuine and authentic representation. Is there enough material here, and enough rich heritage? Obviously, there certainly is, as we all know, in Louisville. That’s how it started.

Greg: You showed me a little video before we started talking. I think the video covered this subject, in talking about the history of Kentucky and the history of Louisville, and then you took me through a couple of your showrooms. Is that what..?

Eamon: Yes.

Greg: Okay. Why don’t you describe them? What are some examples of how Omni is going to make each room, and the whole facility, feel like Louisville, feel like Kentucky to guests?

Eamon: Laura McCoy is our Vice President of Interior Design, and Kentuckians will be very proud, that, while we are based in Dallas as a company, Laura McCoy grew up in Paducah, Kentucky, so she’s got a lot of pride of the entire commonwealth, and wanted to bring a hotel to Louisville, Kentucky, and is very proud of that fact.

Every piece of furniture, every fixture, every piece of fabric in the hotel, has Louisville, Kentucky as it’s inspiration. How she brought that to light, how the team brought that to fruition, really, is tapping into the rich history that Louisville has.

side table at Omni hotel Louisville

A few small examples in the room, and we’ll have a link up on your podcast and your blog, but you’ll see a lot of the bourbon, the copper, the amber tones. There’s a bourbon splash, we like to say, on the carpet. Vendome Copper. A multi-generation company local, here, right off Main Street, as we all know, makes 90 percent of the copper stills in the world. We wanted to incorporate that into our design. We have a subtle reference to the Louisville Slugger bat, which is going to be in our lamp in the room. Of course we’re going to have bourbon, so we have 5 200mL bottles, none of the smaller airplane-sized bottles, up to the full 200mLs, to make sure that we are tapping into the wealth of bourbon that we have here.

Locally-sourced art, so you’re going to have, right now it’s a horse farm here in the commonwealth of Kentucky, which is in the rooms. All of the fixtures that we have really have Louisville as its inspiration. Even the nightstands are shaped like a bourbon barrel, and have our 18, representative of the 2018 year we open, and 1778, Louisville, Kentucky was established as a destination.

Really, we want to make it, it’s going to be brand new, but we want to make it timeless. We know there’s other new hotels that are going to be coming online, which is great for the city, but we want to make it a little bit different, in that it’s timeless, and it’s authentic to Louisville and things that have been part of our rich history for a long time.

Greg: When the hotel is looking, the big hotel. When Omni national is looking to make this kind of decision, what are some of the metrics that you’re looking at? What does Louisville have to be able to do for you, I don’t mean favors, but how many people need to stay here? What constitutes a successful hotel when you guys open up in 2018? Where do you go, uh-oh, that’s not quite what we’re looking for? A follow-up to that, before you even answer it, is how confident, you must be confident, why are you confident that we’re going to get to where we need to get to make your hotel successful?

Eamon: Right now, Louisville, Kentucky has about 20,000 hotel rooms in the metro area. All price points, all segments. Everything from a budget economy hotel, all the way to the top tier hotels here in the city. 70 percent, there’s definitely room to grow there. I feel like the Omni team did a lot of research, and looked into the data of our competitive cities. Indianapolis, certainly Nashville, Columbus, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, cities of similar size of scope that we feel that we can be competitive with, and steal some business and some market share from those cities. Bring in new business to Louisville that otherwise hadn’t been here. Especially with the billion dollars of development that’s going downtown, including our brand new Kentucky International Convention Center, which is on time to be done in late summer of 2018, a few months after we open. It’s really going to be fantastic to bring new business to the city, and to Louisville. That’s going to be good for everybody.

I think the second part of your question was how confident are we? I think that Omni has a great track record of building hotels in urban environments that were a little bit underserved in that respect. The latest two examples were Fort Worth, outside of Dallas, in a similar area, they opened in 2009 and it took off like a rocket ship, and it really helped not only the convention business, but, just as important, was the locals. All of the food and beverage outlets, stay-cations, they wanted to come downtown Fort Worth. That was so successful they opened a 1,000 room hotel in Dallas, in the arts district of Dallas. They wanted to incorporate that. That’s actually our interior designer, Waldrop and Nichols. They designed the Omni Dallas. That hotel really took off like a rocket ship. Again, the local feel.

Not only convention travel, but also the weekend stays, the leisure traveler, it really helped that. Nashville, certainly, is the star right now in the convention world. Nashville, Tennessee had the highest rate and occupancy growth anywhere in North America in the last two years. We feel that, Omni, being a part of that Omni in the new convention center, a lot of other hotels downtown are raising their game as well, and investing capital in their buildings which is going to help lift everybody. Louisville will make this destination more of a national and international destination, that it should be.

Greg: This project is your project, right? You’re in charge of this one, and you’re not really helping out on other projects. Each Omni has its own Director of Sales, is that correct?

Eamon: That is correct.

Greg: A little competition between you guys?

Eamon: It’s definitely a team effort. There’s a lot of great folks here on our corporate team. I am the Director of Sales and Marketing of this hotel, and my counterpart, Todd Roadarmel, who opened Nashville, is now my direct boss as well. We definitely have a friendly competition, and like to give each other a fun hard time about how much business we have, and how Louisville is going to steal business from Nashville. We like talking about that.

Greg: You mentioned a couple of different ways to get business. Was it a happy coincidence that your opening here in spring of 2018 is just a few months before the convention center is supposed to open up? Was that a coincidence, was that something that was planned? Let’s piggyback on that because they work together well?

You also mentioned people doing weekend stay-cations and locals coming down. Is that a cross your fingers, we hope it happens, or is there somewhere where you can look? Is there someone in the city that gives you data that says if you’re here, you can realistically expect X, realistically expect some number of people to come down and hang out? You’re showing me some of the concept drawings, and we’re talking about it. It looks fabulous, so I would definitely be one of those people, but I’m curious, again, I like to throw multiple questions at you as we go, if you could try and answer one of those, that would be great!

A king model room for the Omni Louisville Hotel

Eamon: I’ll do my best. I think the first question, I believe, was about the convention center and our hotel. Yes, I think it was absolutely a factor. Omni, back before 2009, Fort Worth, and really San Diego in 2004 before that, downtown San Diego, Omni was a company that did a great job, but they were proactively seeking out cities to say we want to build an Omni here. Since Fort Worth happened, the last 3 or 4 new builds, and Louisville is certainly included in that, the cities have now been proactively seeking out Omni because of the high level and high quality product. That was the start of the conversation.

Louisville, as a city, reached out to Omni, which was fantastic. I’m certainly glad that they did. Simultaneously, part of the pitch, certainly, would be look, we’re going to get, we just had approval from the state of, I believe, 186 million dollars at the time, to get a brand new convention center downtown. That’s absolutely a factor. I do believe there is some pent up demand that we can take advantage of, collectively, as a market. The convention center, it served a purpose. It did a good job for what it was, certainly, and a lot of great conventions have come through the city. Now, today’s convention traveler needs a few different things. They need more natural light, the floor to ceiling windows. Places to network, and more contiguous exhibit space, because that’s where a lot of these associations really generate their revenue. The new floor plan for the convention center is going to be a huge advocate for that, and, really, stealing market share from other cities. Absolutely, it was a factor. It wasn’t the deciding factor, but it certainly was a positive in the entire decision.

The second part of your question about stay-cations, we’re very confident in that. As we talked about, before we started the podcast, there’s going to be a 20,000 square foot urban lifestyle market. I know we’re going to dive into that in a bit, but we’re going to have…

Greg: You can go for it now, because I totally missed. I looked at your website, and I misunderstood. I’m not blaming it on your website, it’s my fault. I misunderstood what it was, so I thought it was a one place grocery. When you explained it to me, it sounds fascinating.

Eamon: Absolutely. We’ll have that, in a second. We’re going to have six food and beverage outlets. What I was trying to say, for your question, I want to do my due diligence here of trying to answer your questions, then you can cut me and do whatever you want.

It’s going to be hard, if you stayed a Friday to Saturday, Friday, Saturday night, and left Sunday, you’re going to be hard pressed to see all of these outlets, and give them the full quality assurance test, if you will. Make sure you taste all of the food and beverage, make sure everything’s safe for your family and friends to come down and make sure everything is up to our high standards as a foodie city, that we are here in Louisville. You’re going to be hard pressed to do that, and experience the spa and the outdoor rooftop pool, and hopefully, a development that will come after our hotel.

Going back to the market, yes. 20,000 square feet. The reason, we did announce the name a few weeks ago. Falls City Market, of course the falls of the Ohio, Falls City, we all know where that name came from. Again, trying to be genuine and authentic to Louisville. 20,000 square feet, about 80 percent of the square feet are going to be different food and beverage outlets and 20 percent of the square feet will be functional grocery store elements. The 80 percent is going to be, and you see a few of the concepts in our virtual tour…

The flower shop will be on the corner of Third and Liberty, and you’re going to have Iron Quarter, which is going to be 12 or 14 Kentucky craft beers, and then it’s going to be flatbread pizzas. The Hollow Square bar, open air, garage style doors out to Liberty Street, so really activating that space, activating the community. Outdoor seating, as well. You’re also going to have the Heine Brothers coffee shop, again, being local and authentic to Louisville.

The Heine Brothers, we talked to multiple coffee shops and the Heine Brothers really knocked it out of the park, they did a fantastic job. Mike Mays and his team, really excited about the project and that feeling is definitely mutual. They really, one of the reasons why they’re so great, in my opinion, is they have, usually, at least three initiatives going on. Usually they have a Louisville-centric initiative, then they have a domestic national initiative, and then they have an international one.

As we try and tell our story to people outside of Louisville, Heine Brothers has Rhonda’s Blend, which I’m sure some of your listeners are familiar with. This was a staff favorite who died tragically in 2003 in a car accident, and they wanted to memorialize her and honor her memory. Heine Brothers made this blend called Rhonda’s Blend, and 50 cents of every bag sold from 2003 into perpetuity, there’s really no end date to my knowledge, at least through 2016, goes to the Center for Women and Families. That’s the type of people that they are. They have very similar initiatives going on with different parts. They’re trying to get clean water into Mexico through a number of other coffee shops that they partner with throughout the country, but really, really great people there at Heine Brothers. Sorry for the quick tangent, there, but we’re passionate about our partners.

Greg: It’s all about tangents on this podcast.

Eamon: We’re passionate about our partners, and Mike and his team do an awesome job. Obviously going to Portland with their new headquarters, we’re going to check that out in a couple of weeks, so I’m excited to see their new facility, but I digress.

Those are the kind of known concepts. The other concepts that are going to be in there, the plan is to have the butcher for Bob’s Steak and Chophouse, we want to have that in there. There’s also going to be, some things we’re working on, some sort of breakfast sandwich kiosk. Barbecue, there’s going to be some sort of fish element, if that’s sushi, that’s not determined yet. If that’s going to be fresh fish to go, still working through that. There’s going to be two liquor stores, there’s going to be a craft beer and wine store, there’s also going to be a bourbon tasting room and bourbon retail. There’s going to be a high level home goods store, and a few other aspects that we’re not quite ready to divulge, just because they’re not 100 percent spec’ed out yet. That’s the spirit of 80 percent of that square footage of the 20,000. A lot of space there.

20 percent of the square footage is going to be functional grocery store. You can get your toilet paper, your Windex, things that you couldn’t get at a Trader Joe’s, as an example. You don’t have to make three stops, is the hope. You’d be able to come here, get your toiletries, get your things for the bathroom. Again, toilet paper, Windex, whatever you can carry in two arms, so to speak, and carry into the downtown, urban environment. That’s what we want.

Greg: This is for everyone who is around, right? Not just hotel guests or people in the residence, right? You were talking about the garage doors and the floor. So it’ll be wide open, and you don’t have to be at the convention center or a guest at the hotel, it’s a store for everyone, correct?

Eamon: 100 percent, yes. It’s definitely, the sense on our podium level, everything with the exception of the speakeasy is going to have street access. It’s going to have floor to ceiling windows and natural light. Bob’s won’t have floor to ceiling windows, but it will have access, the dinner service steakhouse we’ll talk about. Yes, it’s absolutely open to everyone.

Why that’s so important is, our exterior designer, HKS, really was blown away when they came on one of their immersion trips about the sense of community that Louisville has had, and has had a history of having.

If you remember back in Evan Williams’ day, in Whiskey Row, they would have their livelihood down on Whiskey Row. They would have the bourbon barrels out there, they needed to feed their families by selling their bourbon. The Rectifiers, that’ll be a conversation for a different time, but a lot of people were trying to make ends meet for their family. That sense of community. Everyone’s goods and everyone’s services were out there for all to see. There was really a sense of community, people going down, buying and selling, trading, everything they could do to try and make ends meet. That really, sense of community dating back to the late 1700s-early 1800s is what our architect wanted to bring in.

You’ll see the black brick juxtaposed against the floor to ceiling windows, the natural light coming in. It’s really going to be, it’s got the grit, blue collar hardworking that we are as Louisvillians, but at the same time, it’s going to have that next step for the city as well, and great food and beverage, and great craft beer, bourbon of course, so really a lot going on. Absolutely want to engage with the community.

Greg: And art, as well. You were telling me about trying to source a lot of the photos and the artwork locally, being Kentucky, locally. I’m learning more about the state and the history talking to you about a hotel, and I feel like a lot of guests are going to feel the same way. Even if they’ve been Louisvillian their whole life, I think a lot of people are going to come down, if they’re curious and open-minded, they’ll say why is this, they’ll point at some aspect and say what is that for? There will be a little story, and they’ll learn something about Kentucky or about Louisville. I’m learning a lot about our history. I’m trying to act like I already knew it, but I appreciate the education as you walk me around.

full bathroom at Omni Hotel Louisville

Eamon: It’s easy for me, because I have a good excuse. I can research this and tell these stories, and go to the U of L archives and look at cool pictures of the Odd Fellows’ building, where you and I are sitting right now, and the Pendennis Club, and all of this great history. Omni, we want to tell stories. That’s what we want, as travelers, I feel. My wife and I are the same way. Talking earlier, it sounds like you are, as well.

You want to go to a city and experience it like a local, and have that experiential travel. You can come back and tell your friends and family hey, I want to Louisville, Kentucky, and it was really cool. There’s a lot going on. Personally, I don’t think we get enough mileage out of us being established as a city in 1778. That’s a huge history. Two years after the Declaration of Independence, as we all know, it’s just great. There’s so much here, I feel like we’re just scratching the surface. By time we open, we are going to have a lot of stories. I do appreciate you bringing up the art, because you mentioned friendly competition, earlier, with our good friend Todd down I-65 in Nashville.

They have, 75 percent of their art in the hotel is from the state of Tennessee. We’ve challenged ourselves, we want to have that, certainly, as a minimum ratio, if you will. We want to have 75 percent of our art from the commonwealth of Kentucky. I would love to have a little bit more bend towards Louisville-centric, because obviously we are in Louisville, but certainly there are great artists throughout the state.

We have, a little bit unique for Omni, it’s not as if we have a contract with one artist in one city that’s never been to Louisville before, and they’re just going to think that we’re horses and bourbon, and put a picture of a horse on the wall and think that’s going to make sense for our design.

What we’ve done, is we’ve hired an art consultant that is doing an open call. They’ve been to St. James, they’ve done their own calls on their own, around different art shows here. The visual arts show, last fall. We really come and try and learn the community, talk to some art curators at some of the distilleries throughout the commonwealth. Talk to some of the fine glass blowers, here. A number of different artisans. They’re doing an open call, everywhere from a student, to a professional, to a retired professional, to a novice, to anyone can submit their work. If it’s painting, sculpture, steel, bourbon barrels, copper, anything. It is really exciting. I’m excited, I’ve talked to them, and Local Language is the art consultant out of Oakland, California. They were blown away by Louisville, they’re really excited, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Greg: How does that work? You’re not asking for a piece of art for a certain space, it doesn’t sound like, you’re saying, what is it you would like to put in our hotel, and if we like it, maybe we’ll find a place to put it in. Is that how you’re approaching it?

Eamon: Yes. So they, what they do…

Greg: Which, as an ex-artist, I love that approach, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what usually happens, right? We have a blank wall and we need something for it. You’re going the other way, it sounds like.

Eamon: I think, I’ve worked for some other companies that, and again, there’s nothing right or wrong, it’s all perception and perspective. To your point, yes, we have a white wall, we need two 18×24 framed pictures, and we need to get them up next week because we’re opening, whatever the case is.

The strategy is a broad stroke first. We’re trying to get a wide range of all price points, all artist levels, all types of art first, and they have the design statements, and they have the mood elements that Waldrop and Nichols, our interior designer, is going for, as well as HKS, our exterior designer. They have all of this information, so they have broad strokes of what we want to do. The bourbon elements, the copper, the culture, the water, the cast iron, steel, those types of things, so they have some broad strokes. Getting our arms around Louisville, all of our great artists here. That’s step one.

Step two is presenting a wide range to Waldrop and Nichols, and to Omni. Saying look, based on the design elements, you said you want these types of tones, these types of artwork, this is what we feel and this is the message we’re trying to convey.

Ultimately, Omni and Waldrop and Nichols will make that call, and see what makes the final cut, if you will. The hope is to get more response and more art than we would necessarily need, and figure out a way to get as much as we can in, if that answers your question.

Greg: Yeah, that sounds great. We’ve touched a little bit on some of the spaces that are open to the public, and where there’s going to be an interaction at street level. Do you want to talk a little bit about what’s going to be upstairs?

Eamon: Yes. One more thing before we get in an elevator and go upstairs. I’d like to talk about the speakeasy really quick, because I forgot to mention it.

We all know, Bourbon Country, a lot of speakeasys, a lot of prohibition history here. We’re going to have a small speakeasy with a hidden entrance. About 60 seats, four bowling lanes. We’re trying to work with some local artists and some local vendors here, to do some unique things for the lanes. As an example, our Vice President of Design, Laura McCoy, she was at Joe Ley Antiques a couple of weeks ago, looking at some potential light fixtures for the speakeasy. Talking to them, and Louisville Slugger, I didn’t realize they used to make bowling pins back in the 1890s in their old Main Street factory, so they don’t really make those there, maybe in the last 100 years, so that may be a bit of a big ask, but maybe they can help do something to tie Louisville Slugger to that, too.

The speakeasy will have, of course, craft cocktails, prohibition cocktails, their hidden entrance. There is going to be a hidden entrance off the back alley of the hotel, in addition to another hidden entrance. We’re still working on how it’s going to be inside the hotel, but the hope is behind a hidden piece of art, so it would be a canvas that would turn into a door, type of a thing. More to come on that, but definitely the speakeasy is going to be worth checking out.

Greg: It sounds like you guys have thought about almost everything, or everything. You’ve thought this through for, how long have you been working on this project? You, personally?

Eamon: I’ve been here about a year, so I’m one of the newbies. February of 2016.

Greg: How long has Omni been working on this project?

Eamon: Probably the end of ’13, early ’14, those initial conversations with the mayor.

Greg: You said we’re going to hop in an elevator.

Eamon: Go upstairs.

Greg: In the virtual world.

Eamon: Yeah, so the meeting space. We will have 70,000 square feet of meeting space to, again, try to lure those convention and group travelers. Certainly from other cities, but also, we have a lot of fantastic companies here in Louisville that do a lot of local business that we’d love to work with them and partner with them, as well. We have booked quite a bit of business already, which is fantastic. The response has been phenomenal, which we appreciate. It seems like the story is resonating both with locals and with national planners, as well.

As you go up into the guest rooms, again, think about the genuine, the authentic feel of Louisville. When you go into the guest rooms, you’re going to feel that bourbon, the copper tones, the amber hues, again, the Louisville Slugger bat, you’re going to see. The nightstands, that are, still you have your two electrical outlets and two USBs, of course we need to stay connected, as always, now in 2017 and beyond. They’re all custom pieces for the hotel. These pieces are not going to be in any other Omni. They are custom to the Omni Louisville, which, for a convention hotel, is extremely unique.

Typically, a hotel company, just recently our economies of scale, will have certain vendors that they work with, and have similar pieces in different cities, in different hotels. Omni has a different philosophy, so that’s exciting. As I’m talking, I realize that we skipped the spa, and the pool, which I think Louisvillians would hurt me if they didn’t hear about this. I’ve had a lot of questions. The market is the number one thing I’m asked about, the second is probably the pool, because people are really excited.

Greg: Let’s hear it!

Eamon: We’re going to have a great footprint here. This will to be on the southeast corner of the building, so really, Second Street, and almost Ali. Not quite to Ali, but the back of the hotel is an alley that didn’t exist before. Almost to Ali, right down to the southeast corner. An outdoor pool with a hot tub, as well. You’re going to have daybeds, you’re going to have cabanas out there, you’re going to have a rooftop café and bar. It’s got a cantilevered ceiling over the bar, so in case of inclement weather, you can still go out there and enjoy a cocktail or a craft beer, have some small bites. There is also going to be a fire pit element out there, and some small event space.

The great thing about the pool is, the hope is that our hotel would help continue this great momentum that we, as a city, have in this development. With Christ Church, right across the street, which is a great focal point for our meeting space to be anchored looking towards, the development wouldn’t be taking over the church. That sun is really going to be consistent on the pool deck. Sometimes, in developing cities, you have this great pool deck and two years later there’s a skyscraper next to it, which kind of cuts into your sun. Hopefully, that won’t be an issue for us.

There is also going to be a full service spa. Mokara Spa, one of the top 50 spas in the United States the last two years running. They have full hair, full nail, and seven massage treatment rooms, as well. It’s really going to be a place to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. Again, to help promote that stay-cation. That’s going to be something that, for the men of women of Louisville to come and relax a little bit, and enjoy themselves.

Greg: I can see why that sounds appealing to a stay-cation couple, or anybody traveling in from out of town. Eamon, I really appreciate you letting me come down today, and learn all about this project. As a Louisvillian, I am very excited to see this project open up in, I guess a little over a year!

Eamon: Absolutely. April 7, 2018 is our opening date right now.

Greg: We are going to hold you to it.

Eamon: Please do. The O’Brien in me is still pushing for St. Patrick’s Day, but we certainly wouldn’t be able to announce that until a little bit closer. Omni has a great history, the last four new builds have opened a little bit early, so fingers crossed that we can still make that happen. The 248 men and women that are working on our site are doing a great job, so hopefully we will continue that, and Mother Nature will help us out along the way.

Greg: Before I turn all this off and pack it up, if someone is interested in learning more about this, is this something where they have to sit on their hands until next spring, or is there some place they can go learn more about the Omni Louisville?

Eamon: Sure. You can email me, Eamon O’Brien. Eamon.obrien@omnihotels.com, I would be happy to talk to you. We do have an exact replica, model rooms here, of what a king and a double room will look like, if you want to see those. I would be happy to tour them around. In addition, we are going to have a number of press releases, hopefully, as we really get our food and beverage programming a little bit more ironed out, we get the concepts for the market finalized, we get our chef hired, general manager hired, as we get progressively closer to the opening date. We are definitely going to be announcing that to the community, and being out in the community, and sharing our story a little bit, and adding some more layers to it. As we know more, we want Louisville to know more. We believe in being transparent as much as we can. We don’t have a lot of information that we’re holding back, because we want Louisville to support this hotel, we want to support the community as best we can.

We have some really cool initiatives, Say Goodnight to Hunger, that you’re going to learn a little bit more about. It’s primarily a transient, or an individual traveler incentive that we have going on, but it’s really, more to come on Say Goodnight to Hunger later on in the year, but maybe we could invite you back. We would love to have you back at the model rooms and talk about that. It’s really, through Feeding America, some fantastic things. We’re working on our partnership locally with Dare to Care. More to come on Say Goodnight to Hunger, but a number of other initiatives, we are definitely going to be keeping the community abreast as much as we can.

Greg: Do you have a Facebook page or something, where people can follow along for developments?

subscribe-via-stitcherEamon: We do, yes. The Facebook is Omni Louisville. We have Twitter, and Instagram. Twitter is @omnilouisville, and Instagram is @omnilou. You can follow me, as I’m trying to find our local and authentic places, at @eobourboncity is my Instagram handle, as well. A lot of social media. That’s on our website as well, if you want to follow us. Please, we’d be happy to welcome anyone to the hotel, and help tell our story.

Greg: Eamon, thanks so much.

Eamon: Thank you so much, it was a pleasure to be here.

Thank you for joining Perspectives this week, presented by Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty, If you have an idea for a future episode, or think you might like to participate, please contact us at podcast@lsir.com for more information. And please, if you like this series, make sure to subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, then leave us a review, and share and like on all your favorite social media channels. You can find more episodes like this one, as well as all available homes for sale in the Louisville market, at our website, lsir.com.