Today, I got to do something special. I, along with my good friend Kristen Daukas, got to do a walk through of the new Kimpton Cardinal Hotel. I say new, but in all actuality, it’s quite old: built in 1929. This is the former headquarters of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Yes, the mini-Empire State Building. Yes, that building.
I have lived in this city, Winston-Salem, NC, for almost 30 years (June 21 will be 30) and I had never stepped foot in that building. Truthfully, it was past its prime way before I even got to town. We’re told that if you didn’t see it prior to the 1980s, you didn’t see it. This town was built, not exclusively, no, but on tobacco. The town and it’s awesomeness was started by the likes of R.J. Reynolds and his contemporaries.
This building is a marvel and is a treasure, not only to WSNC, but also to the state of North Carolina and this country. It truly is fascinating. From the original gold leaf trim upon the ceilings to the decorative brass revolving doors and the magnificent floors, this building holds so much glamour and glitz, even now in its very recent state of non-use and it’s current “pardon our dust” status. There are elements that are starting to come together and there are elements that seem to be far away from completion, but our “tour guide,” Margaret Kelly Roberts said they’re standing by their April, 2016 open-by date. I hope so. Some of the residents have started moving in already.
There’s ample event spaces (why we were there), common areas, and “ballrooms.” And the hotel rooms are quite nice. We did get to see a model studio room as well as a one-bedroom suite. The rooms are warmly colored and the studio’s bath featured a brand new tiled shower while the suite’s had a shower and a garden tub within it. The rooms were spacious and the views from them are going to be spectacular. This is truly history in the re-making. They’re sparing nothing here. I mean, even the handles of the wardrobe are leather-wrapped.
Every Kimpton hotel has its own “surprise hidden thing” and this hotel’s thing is the suitcase pictures in the wardrobe-style closets. There’s also a custom throw pillow in each room that is designed especially for this hotel. This one has “KHG + PMC” embroidered in the trunk of a flowered tree. That stands for Kimpton Hotel Group which will run the hotel aspect (floors 1-6, 20) and PMC Property Group, Inc. out of Philadelphia that will manage the residence apartments (floors 7-19). The restaurant will be called the Katharine Brasserie & Bar (named after R.J.’s wife) and will be the full-on food service for the hotel and the residences, alike (they’ll have a different menu).
One of the coolest things here, though, is the “rec room.” There’s a two-lane bowling alley, a half-basketball court, pool tables, poker tables, jukebox and a slide that goes from the top of the walkway to the rec area underneath. Kristen tried it out. I though I’d break it. Another cool feature about this they have left all the building’s old boilers and pipes and the remnants of a conveyor belt to show the industrial history of the property.
This building has really meant a lot to this city and I was glad to see that it was maintaining that charm. Kimpton and PMC are doing this city right. I think long-time, and even short-time residents of our fair city will be happy with what changes have and certainly have not happened. I predict that for the first six months (at least) the hotel will be full of locals who want to see and experience this new beauty. I’m including a few pictures. Enjoy it!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“In Winston-Salem, the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel celebrates the rituals and values of the South, while also offering that beloved Kimpton charisma guests have come to expect. One of the city’s most iconic structures (built in 1929) comes alive in a theatrical, playful manner, while still honoring the South’s heavy sense of community.” – Kimpton Hotels