From left, Bill Cole, director of operations at Hotel Settles, Barbara Kirk-Norris, Kim Howell and Dwight Linton talk about the staircase that will stand in the middle of of the historic hotel once it is open. (HERALD photo/Amanda Moreno)
A piece of history will soon come back to life in Big Spring, with a little modern twist. According to Bill Cole, Hotel Settles director of operations, construction is moving along and a â€śsoftâ€ť opening is set for August.
For 30 years, Hotel Settles â€” which shut its doors in 1982 â€” has been closed to the public, but by the end of this year, the majestic building will again be reopened. The Healthy Woman Advisory Council had the privilege Wednesday afternoon of having the first â€śofficialâ€ť meeting in the hotel.
â€śWe are honored to be able to come in and host our meeting here and to see how the project is coming along,â€ť said Kim Howell, Scenic Mountain Medical Center marketing director and Healthy Woman coordinator. â€śI thought this might be a fun thing to do. We had talked about having our 2012 anniversary meeting here, but it didn't happen, however, it is very much a possibility for 2013. I thought it would be very cool for us to have a chance to see it in its rebirth.â€ť
After the official meeting, members divided into two groups and toured the facility.
â€śYou can feel a sense of history weighing down on you,â€ť Howell said.
Hotel Settles originally had 150 rooms available, but with renovation and the inclusion of some modern aspects, the hotel will now have 65. The hotel will be a member of Historic Hotels of America as well as maintain its historical charter.
â€śIn order to keep those things intact, there are certain criteria which have to be met and certain aspects that have to be maintained,â€ť Cole said. â€śOne goal is preserving the original flooring on the first level, it can be covered, but not removed. So, instead of covering it up we are going to capitalize on its charm and incorporate it into the restoration.â€ť
The third floor will also allow hotel guests to experience the rooms as they once were. We are going to maintain the size and integrity and size of the historical rooms.
â€śOne interesting fact is no two rooms in the hotel are exactly the same,â€ť Cole said. â€ś Most of the furniture used throughout is custom made. There will be very few pieces mass produced.â€ť
The fourth floor will contain two terrace suits with walk-out balconies. The hotel will also have five rooms designed for extended stays.
â€śHopefully, this hotel will act as a catalyst to entice new business and growth in the downtown area,â€ť Cole said. â€śIf you have a vision and provide a central core, it will expand outward and just continues to grow.â€ť
Each of the amenities, whether it be a trip to the Settles Salon and Spa, hosting an event, stopping in to eat a meal in the Settles Grill or have a drink in the Pharmacy Bar and Parlor â€” named in honor and recognition of the pharmacy that was previously located there â€” will be available to the community. The primary scope of the project is not planned as a money maker, but more of a gift to the community.
â€śThis is a hotel for the community, not just a hotel in the community,â€ť Cole said. â€śWe know the demographics of West Texas, particularly Big Spring and we plan to position ourselves as a hotel for our community and West Texas.â€ť
The primary goal for Brint and Kris Ryan â€”owners of the hotel â€” is to cover operational expenses. Rooms will range from $89 up to $500 a night.
â€śHe (Brint) has a heartfelt attachment to this community,â€ť Cole said. â€śBrint is aware this isn't a short-term, money making venture and just really wants to give back to the community he grew up in.
â€śThis is a very realistic and achievable goal. Juan Rodriguez and I eventually see the team initiating new festivals, according to what the citizens want.â€ť
Shortcuts were not taken in the restoration process. An example according to Cole, it would have been more economical to purchase and install new windows throughout the hotel. However, it was decided to have the original windows restored and re-installed in order to preserve the historical integrity and feel. Some modern inclusions will be a new swimming pool, hot tub, outdoor bar, and fire pits located on the backside of the hotel.
â€śThis is a long-term investment for Brint and I can't think of a better boss than Brint Ryan,â€ť Cole said. â€śThe philosophy Jeff Trigger, CEO for Austin based La Corsha Hospitality, Juan Rodriguez, managing director, and Brint Ryan have is to make this the pride and joy of the community, just like it is for them.â€ť
â€śIt is amazing to see a piece of Big Spring coming back to life,â€ť Howell said.
As the restoration nears completion, there are still a few ends needing to be tied up. The inclusion of history is a big part of the project, which is why anyone with nostalgic photos of Hotel Settles is encouraged to bring them forward and contact Cole or Rodriguez.
â€śHotel Settles was once the social center of West Texas and the goal is reposition the hotel and put Hotel Settles back on the map. It will be our pride and joy once again,â€ť Cole said.
Cole can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Rodriguez at email@example.com