New Boutique Hotel Promises to Bring Beauty & Hospitality to Greenwood
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Ron Wise & Provided
In the heart of Center Grove sits the Barn at Bay Horse Inn, a 10,000 sq. ft. event center that opened in September 2016. Nestled within nature, the facility houses a giant chic yet rustic barn, pergola, patio, saloon and stables. Business has been booming. Just last year they hosted 22,000 people, which included weddings and corporate affairs but also a number of events that benefit the community, such as the Mayor’s Gala, the Greenwood Chamber, the Johnson County Community Foundation, the Police Department, the Fire Department and Habitat for Humanity.
Directly across the street from owner Amanda Cottingham’s business is a newly built Franciscan Neighborhood Health Center. In addition, the area has a number of funeral homes, churches, companies and community-based organizations. What’s lacking, however, is a nice hotel as the closest one is 15-20 minutes away. So, for the past several months, Cottingham has been working closely with Carl Bruggemeier, founder of CZH Hospitality Group, LLC, a comprehensive restaurant advisory/consulting firm that conceptualizes, creates, builds and operates independent and hotel managed restaurants.
Bruggemeier has been involved in several billion dollars’ worth of hotel development and advises clients all over the world. Cottingham consulted with Bruggemeier so he could bring his years of experience to the table and advise her from a global business perspective.
“I envision a boutique hotel with 100 rooms or less with lots of great amenities,” says Cottingham, who drew inspiration from the Farmhouse Restaurant located at Fair Oaks Farms, a sustainable dairy farm in northern Indiana. Bruggemeier created The Farmhouse Restaurant and Conference Center. After they were built, however, the demand for social and corporate parties dramatically increased. As a result, the owners of Fair Oaks Farms realized they needed a nice hotel on the property to house visitors. A Fairfield Inn is now currently being erected.
“But it will be the most unique Fairfield Inn that’s ever been done because it’ll blend with the farm and the farmhouse restaurant,” Bruggemeier says. “It’s going to look like a building sitting on a farm rather than a hotel sitting in suburbia.”
Cottingham also desires something distinctive that will seamlessly blend with the event space.
“I’m trying to protect what goes here because we want this to become a destination—where people come for the experience,” says Cottingham, who hired Alex White, a local architect and owner of Whiteboard. Born and raised on a farmstead on the north side of Indy, his parents converted a lot of their barns to retail. White appreciates such renovation and innovation.
“The apple didn’t fall far from the tree,” he says.
White has worked on a number of phenomenal hospitality-minded projects, including the Alexander Hotel, a concierge business hotel north of Eli Lilly’s main campus. He’s also worked on the historic West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick. His work spans both corporations as well as single-family housing.
“No matter the type of client, we focus on customer experience, do the necessary research and execute well thought-out design plans,” says White, noting that what makes Cottingham’s project intriguing is her desire to build something that’s completely one-of-a-kind.
“She wants to create something that’s sympathetic and in the context of the neighborhood,” White says. “From a design and character point of view, she wants to bring to the site something that’s attractive, comfortable and relaxing.”
White notes the resurgence of smaller boutique-type hotels that renovate and reuse historical properties.
“At the core, it’s got to be productive, efficient and functional,” White says. “But there are little nuances in terms of how we provide space for different settings.”
In other words, it’s not just plunking in a bed and bathroom and calling it a hotel.
“We want to reflect a quiet, rural architecture,” says Cottingham, who is also adamant about preserving the peaceful, pastoral setting by integrating landscaping into the plan to not only beautify the space but help buffer noise from traffic and neighboring properties. She’s even dedicated a large expense to tree preservation in order to maintain the woodlot character.
The goal, says White, is to open up more conduits to neighbors and other interested officials.
“Our approach is to generate good public engagement by being open and inviting public feedback and questions,” says White, noting that thus far the concern has primarily pertained to land use questions.
“We need to help describe the level of quality and care that’s going into this development,” White adds. “We’re considering what commercial uses work well within the residential context. Because a hotel, in essence, is a residence in terms of hours and activity. By and large, it’s a place for people to sleep.”
Not only will this hotel provide the Greenwood community another gathering place, but it will give corporations and families a wonderful place to stay.
“The whole idea is to build something unique that enhances the community in every way,” Bruggemeier says.