Whitney Peak celebrates second year
It has been two years since the non-smoking, non-gaming, pet-friendly Whitney Peak Hotel opened in the heart of downtown Reno.
The anniversary coincides with the completion of a new 12,000-square-foot meeting and event space located on the third floor of the hotel.
The space had previously been used as executive offices back when the hotel was operating as the Fitzgerald’s Hotel & Casino, which closed in 2008. The newly renovated space can be subdivided into eight different areas to provide a unique space for events ranging from business meetings to weddings.
Miles Construction was the general contractor on the project and has also been the contractor for all other construction on the hotel. Construction started in January 2016 and the total renovation and cost to fully equip the new space was around $3 million.
According to Niki Gross, managing director of Whitney Peak Hotel, they used in-house designers to create the one of a kind space that features rock ‘n’ roll-themed paintings, custom-printed distressed brick wallpaper, crystal-laden chandeliers and more.
“(Our staff) is really proud of it,” Gross, said. “Our whole team has had some input on the design.”
The hotel currently employs almost 200 people and has served more than 100,000 guests since it opened in 2014.
The hotel is celebrating their second anniversary from July 7 – July 10 with a series of events for their community partners and the public. For the public, they are hosting a social media scavenger hunt starting in the hotel lobby at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 9. In addition to the scavenger hunt, Whitney Peak staff will conduct tours of the hotel and the new event space.
“It is kind of an all encompassing showcase of the property with the focal point being the new space,” Gross said.
The hotel is in the midst of transitioning their restaurant from Heritage to Roundabout Grill.
Owners of Roundabout Catering, Colin and MaryBeth Smith, took over the restaurant as of June 1. Roundabout and Whitney Peak Hotel signed a 10-year lease agreement making Colin executive chef with MaryBeth overseeing the business side of food operations. The restaurant is scheduled to transition to Roundabout Grill in July. Gross said that the restaurant will continue to serve American-style food and use locally sourced farm products; however, the restaurant will be more price-friendly.
“Every chef brings something a little bit different to the table and Chef Colin is no exception,” Gross said.
Whitney Peak is also home to BaseCamp, a 7,000-square-foot indoor bouldering park with its 164-foot rock-climbing wall on the Virginia Street side of the building next to the Reno Arch, and their own concert hall, Cargo. Gross explained that it has been a challenge to bring talent to the Biggest Little City because it is a small market. Since the opening of Cargo, they have worked to develop relationships with agents and are now drawing in bigger names, such as reggae artist Ziggy Marley, to their venue.
“We have definitely picked up momentum,” Gross said.
Gross explained that the biggest part of the hotel’s evolution over the past two years has been the expansion of the number of rooms offered from 155 to 310. They waited before opening the hotel to full capacity in order to test the new business concept in the Reno market.
“We wanted to be financially smart and test our market since there were no (comparable business models in Reno) we could really look at,” Gross said.
The past two years have proven that there is a viable market for the Whitney Peak Hotel. Gross said that the business has exceeded their expectations.
“We were just in the right place at the right time,” Gross said. “We couldn’t have predicted that the economy was going to have the resurgence that it’s having right now.”
Whitney Peak has also set the stage for other non-gaming hotels like the transformation of the Siena to a Marriott Renaissance Hotel. Gross said that she is excited to see more non-gaming hotels coming to downtown Reno.
“This is actually really great for us,” Gross said. “There is kind of this stigma that has been attached to this community for a long time with regards to the type of identity it has that isn’t necessarily favorable.”
Now that construction on Whitney Peak is complete, Gross is starting to look into redeveloping the other nearby buildings that they own in downtown for commercial use. This includes a 18,000-square-foot commercial space located on the ground floor of the Whitney Peak parking garage which is currently empty. They also own the building northwest of Whitney Peak that once housed Vino’s, as well as the Old Reno Casino and the Masonic Building, which is Reno oldest commercial building.
“I am starting on focusing on bringing in tenants to the area, renovating these spaces and seeing what type of people are maybe interested in being downtown and working downtown,” Gross said.
According to Gross, they haven’t started renovations on any of these buildings yet but they are working with an architect to assess the buildings.
As Whitney Peak enters its third year in business, Gross expressed her optimism for northern Nevada.
“We are really happy with where Reno is headed as a destination as a whole,” she said. “(It’s) a great place to live.”
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