Historic hotel opening for guests after decades-long closure

For the second time in a century, the historic Settles Hotel will again open its arms to weary travelers tonight, as the downtown landmark marks its reopening with a special lighting ceremony.With a public lighting ceremony slated for 7:30 p.m., the hotel — which is being operated by the La Corsha Hospitality Group — will see a rather unique set of visitors in the next couple of days, according to Publicity Specialist Ryann Collier.“Hotel Settles will serve its first overnight guests Saturday,” Collier said. “As a special 'thank you,' hotel reservations will open to only current and former Big Spring residents from Saturday until Monday, and will be available to all other guests starting Tuesday, Jan. 1. Nightly room rates start at $179 for a Historic Queen Room and go up to $1,000 for the Presidential Suite.”According to Collier, Hotel Settles will light each floor this evening, beginning at 7:30 p.m., culminating with the red Hotel Settles sign at the top of the building. Also, the hotel will open its restaurant — the Settles Grill — at 7 a.m. Saturday with breakfast service for hotel guests.The hotel will open to the public with light food service and cocktails at its bar, the Pharmacy Bar and Parlor, starting at 5 p.m. Saturday. Beginning Jan. 7, the Settles Grill will be available to everyone for breakfast and Jan. 9 lunch and dinner service will commence, according to Collier.Renovation of the Settles Hotel — which had been empty and abandoned for many years prior — began in 2006 when former Big Spring resident Brint Ryan announced the formation of the Settles Hotel Development Company.“The Hotel Settles restoration has been a dream of mine for many years and I am excited we are reopening in time to ring in the New Year,” said Ryan. “Countless people have worked hard to get us to this point and I know everyone will be amazed at the transformation. Hotel Settles truly is a representation of all the wonder and beauty of West Texas and I am proud to be a part of this historic occasion.”The cost of original construction was reported to be $500,000, a fortune in those times. Opening in October 1930 to great fanfare and support by the local community, Hotel Settles was often compared to the finest hotels of the day. In its earlier incarnation, the Hotel hosted notable guests including Elvis Presley, Lawrence Welk and Herbert Hoover.According to the most recent reports from Project Director Bill Cole, the cost of the renovation has eclipsed the $30 million mark. The Settles combines both historical and modern touches, according to Cole.“We've tried to maintain the historical integrity of the hotel,” he noted. “At the same time, we have modern-day building and safety codes to take into consideration … and we will have other modern touches that current-day travelers will expect.”The lobby, mezzanine and third floor are virtually unchanged from original designs, however, elsewhere, Cole said the hotel features many up-to-date, first-class touches, including:• The Pharmacy Bar and Parlor — Where the drug store used to operate in the old building will now be a bar and parlor that Cole says will evoke a “loungey, Rat Pack sort of feel,” complete with a poker room, flat screen TVs and fireplace.• Day Spa— The old barbershop area is being converted into a hair salon which will offer services such as styling, pedicures and massages.• Settles Grill — Cole said the hotel will offer a full-service restaurant, including private dining room for special occasions and an al fresco dining area, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.• Recreation — The hotel basement will house several services, Cole said, including a fitness center, computer room and a “judge's chamber” for smokers to enjoy. Outside, a pool and hot tub are being constructed and the old Boy's Club immediately east of the hotel will soon make way for a mini-park, complete with hiking trails and a putting green.• Mezzanine level — The Settles' ballroom is being renovated to original standards and can be used for parties or other large gatherings. Also on this level will be two “junior” ballrooms and a conference room.• Guest rooms — Rooms on the third floor are being remodeled to conform to historical standards. From the fourth to the 13th floors, however, the atmosphere will be thoroughly modern and much more spacious, ranging from standard-sized hotel rooms to residential suites and even a penthouse. The renovations will reduce the number of guest rooms from the original 150 to 65, according to SHDC officials.Reservations can be made online at HotelSettles.com or by calling 432-267-7500.