The little city that’s big on fun is getting its first new hotel since 1925.
Several bottles of whiskey will be broken Friday to celebrate the grand opening of Hotel Whiskey on Davis Avenue downtown, said Thomas Genin, one of the owners. He’s going to gather up the glass shards and seal them in a jar with the date on the front.
This is Genin’s first hotel. The Coast restauranteur — owner of The Blind Tiger in Bay St. Louis and Slidell, and Ajax Seafood Kitchen & Bar in Gulfport — has long wanted to build a hotel. He designed one for Pass Christian in 2009 and even poured a foundation in 2011, but got too busy to finish.
His high-end offering on Davis Avenue is called Hotel Whiskey.
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Here’s why, in Genin’s words: “Whiskey was the key to make us pull the trigger and build this.
“True story. We drank a bottle of whiskey and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
A ‘cool’ place
Genin did it right, too. In fact, he went $500,000 over his million-dollar budget.
The two-story hotel has a 1,025-square-foot suite on the second floor that sleeps six. It includes a full kitchen, bar, granite counter tops, a large bathroom with a roomy shower and a covered balcony.
The suite rents for $350, while 10 rooms rent for $129 to $199 a night, depending on the room and the night. The rooms also have fully stocked bars, and granite counter tops and tile showers in the bathrooms.
Whiskey Prime, a 42-seat steakhouse and bar, will feature USDA-certified prime steaks and locally caught seafood.
Genin said visitors from the region, especially New Orleans, have been looking for places to stay since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina washed away vacation homes and other unique properties.
Genin is always chatting with customers in his restaurants, including the four Shaggy’s where he used to be an owner. He said those customers tell him the same thing over and over.
“People want cool places to stay on the weekends,” he said. “I’ve been hearing it for 15 years. This place is going to be cool.”
But even Genin underestimated Hotel Whiskey’s potential. He said the hotel is already booked for all the holiday weekends, plus Mardi Gras. One guest is flying in from England for Fat Tuesday.
He’s also had three “buyouts” of all the rooms and has seven Christmas parties booked, including one for The Blind Tiger staff.
“I had no idea,” he said. “I’m kicking myself already, wishing I had put a third floor on.”
Fellow Pass Christian resident Travis March is Hotel Whiskey’s contractor and co-owner. Genin’s wife, Amy Genin, headed up interior design. You won’t find any crab nets or fish paintings in Hotel Whiskey.
“It’s a small, high-end little place that to me has the feel of the east side of New York City,” Thomas Genin said. “When you’re in there, you don’t feel like you’re in Mississippi.”
The grand opening party is set for 5 p.m. Friday. Mayor Chipper McDermott plans to be there. In fact, both Genin and McDermott will be cracking bottles of whiskey to christen the hotel.