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Hotel Indigo opens in Traverse City, Michigan

The 107-room boutique hotel on West Grand Traverse Bay is the first new hotel built in this Lake Michigan coastal resort community since 2009, and plans for its construction were first put forward six years ago.
“I’ve been repeating myself, talking about all the trials and tribulations we’ve been through, but honestly it was worth every minute,” says General Manager Bridget Hawks, who arrived in Traverse City in mid-2015 for what was expected to be the Indigo’s final push but ended up taking months more. “We’re so excited to finally have our doors open and to be able to offer this beautiful property to the public.”


Perched beside the city’s scenic Grandview Parkway, the four-story hotel features 100 standard guest rooms and seven suites, an elegant lobby restaurant (the Warehouse Kitchen + Cork), a fitness centre, boardroom, basement-level valet parking and a 5,500-square-foot banquet/meeting space with seating for 160 people.

It also has two bars, including a rooftop bar that has stunning views of West Bay - the H&L Social, named after Traverse City’s pioneering lumber, banking and shipping firm, Hannah, Lay & Co. In fact, it’s hard to find a bad view anywhere on the northern face of the property, from the large ground-floor windows in the lobby looking out across the parkway to the top-floor suites.

Hotel Indigo is part of the British Intercontinental Hotels Group, which also owns the Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites and Crowne Plaza brands. Although it’s an international brand, the chain doesn’t believe in building cookie-cutter properties; each of its 61 hotels is designed to reflect the history and character of its host neighbourhood.

In Traverse City’s case, the designers ignored the community’s current status as a hotbed of outdoor recreation and agritourism, and chose instead to evoke an earlier, grittier time in the late 19th century, when the city was a rough-and-tumble logging port. That’s appropriate, since the new hotel was built in the town’s edgy Warehouse District, once a noisy warren of sawmills, warehouses, workshops and commercial wharves.

The industrial/logging theme is apparent everywhere in the hotel. Walls and carpets in some spaces feature stamps and brands once used by local logging companies. Antique crosscut saws, peavies and other tools are hung on the walls as decorations, the corridors are papered and carpeted to evoke woodland pathways, and the guestrooms feature wood-grain tiling, sliding wooden bathroom doors that look like they belong on cattle sheds, mirror frames carved to look like wooden gears, and photomural walls of forest scenes.

In keeping with its Warehouse District location, the main lobby area has a floor of polished concrete and walls made with creamy white Markham brick salvaged from the former Traverse City State Hospital. Waiting staff members in the bars and restaurants wear red-and-white checked “lumberjack-style” shirts.

But present-day Traverse City is also represented in the hotel, which is getting much of its décor, food and drink from local sources. Its restaurant menus will be focused on seasonal, locally-sourced foods obtained from nearby farms, bakeries and other food artisans – and executive chef Nick Battista is a graduate of the local Great Lakes Culinary Institute who trained with legendary Chicago restaurateur Charlie Trotter before moving back to Traverse City.

“It’s going to be a very fun place for guests and members of the community to meet and mingle,” says Hawks. “We’ve all been waiting for this moment.”

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