- By Gary Dinges American-Statesman Staff
On its first weekend in business, Hotel Van Zandt was booked solid.
Downtown Austin’s newest hotel is sold out most of this week, too – a sign of just how healthy the city’s hotel market is these days, said Chuck Moses, director of sales and marketing for the boutique property affiliated with the high-end Kimpton brand.
“The more hotels the merrier, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “The more inventory in downtown, the more convention business for Austin.”
The 16-story, 319-room hotel, at 605 Davis St. in the Rainey Street neighborhood, joins other recent downtown newcomers, including the Westin Austin Downtown and the JW Marriott.
Together, the three hotels have added almost 2,000 guest rooms to downtown Austin’s inventory this year. More hotels are on the way in the next few years, including a 1,066-room Fairmont, as well as a boutique Hotel ZaZa and properties affiliated with the Hotel Indigo, Hyatt House, Holiday Inn Express, Aloft and Element brands.
Music is how Hotel Van Zandt will set itself apart from the competition, Moses said – even down to its name, which is a tip of the hat to Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt.
Music is always on the minds of the hotel’s 200-plus employees, Moses said. The hotel will host live music seven days a week, guests are welcome to spin a record in the lobby, there’s a “writer’s lounge” in the bar where visitors can plug in their guitars, and the hotel’s common areas – such as the elevators, Geraldine’s restaurant and the swimming pool – even have their own playlists hand-picked by music and social director Lauren Bucherie.
“Everything has its own soundtrack. It was really fun to put it all together,” Bucherie said. “We were constantly thinking about how guests would interact with music while they’re here. What would they like to hear at 6 a.m., for example, while they’re drinking their coffee or at 10 p.m. in the bar?”
Room rates start at about $200 and include an hour-long complimentary happy hour for guests each evening featuring beer, wine and margaritas on tap, among other perks.
“People who come to Austin are looking for a unique experience,” Moses said. “This is the first hotel that is authentically connected to our city. I feel like we got it right.”
Moses, who previously worked for Hilton and Omni hotels, said he fell in love with the Kimpton brand while staying at the Hotel Canary in Santa Barbara, Calif.
“I was just blown away by the service,” he said. “I watched the Hotel Van Zandt go up and as soon as I found out it was a Kimpton, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”