When reopens Aug. 5 in Richmond Heights, one of the services general manager Harry Lunt hopes to provide might seem to some a contrast to its Old World air: a charging station for electric cars.
To Lunt, the dichotomy makes sense. He and other representatives of Lodging Hospitality Management have been soliciting feedback from people who frequented the hotel in times past. They hope to bring a mix of old and new to visitors.
"'It's the old classic inn, but how do we reinvent it?'" Lunt said Wednesday, describing how he and The Cheshire team have approached the project. He spoke at during a meeting of the Richmond Heights Chamber of Commerce. Chamber members got an inside look at construction afterward.
The LilyPad EV car-charging station would put The Cheshire on the map as the first St. Louis-area hotel to offer such a service, Lunt said. Developers will work with Plaza Motors of St. Louis and Clayton-based to offer the service beginning on opening day. Lunt said he'd eventually like to see a solar panel installed to the roof of an accompanying restaurant—expected to open during the first quarter of 2012—that would be used to power the charging station.
Developers also will look into implementing other sustainable practices such as having unused soap from guest rooms recycled and distributed in developing countries, Lunt said. It's a practice that's used at the Moonrise Hotel, where he used to work.
At the same time, developers will bring back themed suites, the Fox & Hounds Tavern and a large stuffed bear. Developers also will keep the European-style Rampant Lion design. Guests will be able to see it on the floor of the outdoor pool, for example.
Themed suites will include the James Bond room and the Romeo and Juliet room. Other rooms will be named after authors such as H.G. Wells. The doors will be labeled with the writer's name and house a book written by him or her. A master library will also include works for guests to peruse. In all, the hotel will include 108 guest rooms and suites.
Repairing the hotel's plumbing system has been a big task, but work on the hotel is moving forward.
"It's been pretty painstaking," Lunt said of the restoration process.
Hotel developers plan to market the site's proximity to Forest Park and other cultural attractions in St. Louis City. Part of the hotel lies in Richmond Heights, and the other half lies in the city. Four complementary bikes, provided by Big Shark Bicycle Company, will be available to guests interested in traveling around the area, Lunt said.
Among other proposed features:
- A banquet area with meeting space for up to 150 people
- Complementary breakfast
- Free Internet access
- A private cigar bar
- A wellness center featuring a salon and massage service
- Covered parking
- Open to guests with dogs
The hotel closed for renovations in December and work began in early January, Lunt said. During the tour of construction, Lunt told attendees that most demolition work ended three weeks ago. Now, workers have begun rebuilding The Cheshire as it will look later this year.
He showed off several rooms, describing the features of one intended to look like a summer cottage. It features a wood floor, which some rooms will have and others will not. Developers intend to keep the original red carpet that lines the hallways of the hotel, if possible, Lunt said.
"The hotel is … almost like a country club," he said.
President Pat Croghan of the Chamber went on the tour. He and his wife spent their wedding night at The Cheshire.
"I think it's fantastic," said Croghan, describing his impressions of the construction. He noted the presence of several officials, including Mayor James Beck and City Manager Amy Hamilton, on the tour.
"They are so supportive of everything," Croghan said.