Downtown Shinola Hotel aims to be Detroit ambassador

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Detroit — More than 100 people applauded Tuesday as the sign for the new Shinola Hotel flickered on ahead of its opening next month.

The exterior lights are turned on at the Shinola Hotel in Detroit on Dec. 18, 2018.

The hotel  a collaboration between Detroit-based Bedrock and Shinola, the Detroit-based watch and leather goods manufacturer, anchors a larger development on the block that includes a coffee shop, cosmetics store, florist and Italian restaurant.

"A hotel in the city is huge," said Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans and Bedrock founder, during a news conference ahead of the Shinola's Jan. 2 opening. "Most of them who are staying here aren't from here; they aren't from Detroit. And most of the time they're going to be in Detroit, they're going to be in the hotel. So they may say things about the city they were at, but the vast majority of the time, working on their conscious and their subconscious is this hotel."

Tom Lewand, the watchmaker's CEO, said a Shinola Hotel represents three things: quality, design and craftsmanship.

"We see it as an extension of what we are doing, given our partnership with the city," Lewand said. "Hospitality has been a part of that, whether you walk into our store on Canfield or in Chicago or in L.A. or in New York — we wanted to extend that experience."

Last week, the hotel at 14000 Woodward Ave. began taking overnight reservations. Rates start at $195 per night. The Shinola has 129 guest rooms.

The eight-floor hotel, operated by Mac&Lo Hospitality Management & Consulting, combines the restored buildings of the T.B. Rayl & Co. department store and a former Singer sewing-machine store with three new buildings. The second floor offers space for up to four events and includes a ballroom and the Birdy, a glass-enclosed garden conservatory with a terrace named for one of Shinola's watches.

Rooms display a minimalist approach and include Shinola speakers and clocks. Marble bathtubs, terraces and fireplaces are options across some of the more than 50 room configurations.

This is one of the large  guest rooms facing Woodward Avenue at the Shinola Hotel in Detroit on Dec. 18, 2018.

A mezzanine lounge is called Saksy's, named for the former Detroit bar owned by Gilbert's father. Dan Mullen, Bedrock executive vice president and the hotel's co-founder, said a living room and evening bar in the hotel will be open to the public.

"We call it Detroit's living room," Mullen said. "It's a spot to hang out with friends and family, and have business meetings and just really be a part of another experience in downtown Detroit."

About 300 people have been hired to work at the Shinola.

"Great hotels are really about the people who are in place to serve all of the guests that come in," said Elliott Broom, the hotel's general manager.

The Shinola is the latest hotel to open in the city. On Monday, developers dedicated the renovated Metropolitan Building that will host an extended-stay Marriott International Element Hotel opening in January. Occupancy rates downtown have reached an average of 70 percent as the city attracts more events and meetings, according to the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Center.

Bedrock has 16,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space in its development around the Shinola Hotel. The Southern Italian restaurant San Morello on the corner of Grand River and Woodward on the hotel's ground floor opened Tuesday. It is the first of three restaurants attached to the Shinola from chef Andrew Carmellini and his NoHo Hospitality Group.

The latest retailers moving into Parker's Alley behind the hotel are Detroit-based vegan lipstick company Lip Bar and Grand Rapids-based Madcap Coffee Co., according to Bedrock.

Florist Posie Atelier is expected to open Wednesday on Farmer Street. Opening dates are not yet set for the others.

Megan Stojcevski, owner of the Posie Atelier, said she’s done florist work on the side for six years. Now she’s taking it on full time after leaving a job in the automotive industry.

“I’m expecting to do a different take on a floral shop,” she said. “I have a lot of plants and vases. I’m selling fine jewelry as well from several independent female designers.”

The combination of flowers and jewelry is regularly seen in bigger cities, but not in Detroit, Stojcevski said.

“You know where to send husbands,” she said. “It’s a one-stop shop.”

Shinola founder Tom Kartsotis speaks at a press conference celebrating the opening of the Shinola Hotel in Detroit on Dec. 18, 2018.

Melissa Butler, CEO of the Lip Bar, launched her business in her kitchen in 2012. Since that time her business has grown, with products sold in Urban Outfitter, Forever 21 and Target.

Butler said she offers 50 shades of lipstick, with one exclusive shade to be offered in her new store.

“This is a really fun atmosphere,” she said. “Make-up should also be fun. I want to bring that self-expression into the store."

Already open locations for outfitter Madewell, fragrance brand Le Labo, local juice bar Drought, clothing store Good Neighbor and Shinola.

Shinola founder Tom Kartsotis said an earlier meeting with all of the new hotel's employees reminded him of the opening of the manufacturer's first store in Midtown in 2013 when 2,500 people showed up.