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Birmingham-Bloomfield area builds more places to stay

Joe Bauman, executive director of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce, said his office fields a lot of inquiries from folks looking for a place to stay the night in the Birmingham-Bloomfield area.

And now, he has more options to suggest.

“We get calls all the time from people coming in for a wedding or major events, and there are a lot of things tied to Cranbrook (Educational Community) and people want to get a block of rooms. But really, there’s just the Holiday Inn Express and the Townsend Hotel,” he explained. “Sure, there’s some more options on Big Beaver Road in Troy, but often people want to try to stay as close to Birmingham as they can.”

That’s why he said the chamber is looking forward to the opening of the DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomfield Hills Detroit. Yes, it’s a mouthful, but you might know the property better by its former moniker: the Kingsley Inn.

The hotel was purchased four years ago, and in that first year, it was quickly realized that the property needed to “step it up,” according to the hotel’s general manager, William Bornheimer. The property closed nearly two years ago for extensive renovations.

That led owners and managers to embark on a lengthy process to make the most of the opportunity for rebranding.

“Hilton, as a brand, or Hilton properties, are extremely underrepresented in the area. Marriott has a major chunk of the hotels in this market, and there was a need for a full-service Hilton. We’ve done extensive feasibility studies on that,” Bornheimer explained. “And Hilton also gave us latitude as far as art and keeping the hotel classic and keeping with some of that history, but making it much more modern and fun.”

Slated to open later this month, the DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomfield Hills Detroit boasts the same bones of the original Kingsley Inn that so many in the community are familiar with, including resurrected but revamped versions of the signature indoor courtyard and delicatessen.

“The Kingsley Inn was one of the most prominent hotels in the area in the ’60s and ’70s, and it was only over the last few years that it had really declined in quality. We’re turning it back into a premier place in the heart of Woodward with local ownership,” Bornheimer said. “We didn’t want to completely demolish it and rebuild. We’ve opened up the lobby so you can see Woodward, and we’re bringing back the deli. Zalman’s Deli was the power place to have breakfast or lunch from the ’70s to the early 2000s. More deals were made there than in any conference room in Detroit.”

Right along Woodward, most people’s minds automatically steer toward the annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Bornheimer said that in addition to a Detroit history-heavy décor theme throughout, the rooms of the new property that face M-1 have floor-to-ceiling windows, giving guests a prime view of the action — without the noise or the summer heat.

Bauman said having another place to send guests of the Birmingham-Bloomfield area is exciting enough in his book, never mind the added amenities like new, fresh event spaces.

“It’s always nice to have additional venue space for banquets or catering,” he said.

“People come up to me all the time when they find out where I work, even from New York, and say, ‘Oh, I went to a wedding there.’ Or, ‘I went to a christening there.’ We’re looking forward to a new generation of the community hosting their events here. We want the property to be inclusive of the neighborhood,” said Bornheimer.

As such an in-demand place to visit, it might be surprising that the DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomfield Hills Detroit is one of just three hotels slated to open in the Eagle’s coverage area in the foreseeable future.

“We currently have one hotel project under construction, the Daxton Hotel, at 298 S. Old Woodward in downtown Birmingham,” Jana Ecker, Birmingham’s planning director, said in an email.

Andrea Bibby — the deputy director of planning, building and ordinances for Bloomfield Township — said the only proposed hotel setting up shop under her watch is the Hampton Inn and Suites project at the Village of Bloomfield, at Telegraph and Square Lake roads. That’s projected to open in 2019.

Great Lakes Hospitality Group, which is developing the Hampton Inn and Suites property, could not be reached for comment by press time on the progress of the estimated $8 million hotel at the site.

But to the delight of Bauman and others in the Birmingham-Bloomfield hospitality and tourism fields — particularly Joe Muer Seafood, a high-end restaurant adjoining the DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomfield Hills Detroit hotel, which opened late last summer — the former Kingsley Inn property will be up and running for guests and events as the new year kicks off.

There’s just one question left, though: If the Kingsley Inn name is so well-known, why dump it?

“That’s part of our relationship with Hilton is that we had to rebrand as a Hilton. But the Kingsley had a fantastic reputation years ago, and then a not-so-good reputation. We’re coming out fresh and new,” Bornheimer said.

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