Jourdan Nicaud went to New Orleans for medical school but wound up in a bar.
He wasn’t there to drink. He was earning a little money while attending school at Tulane University, and fell in love with the food and beverage business.
He loved meeting people and being a part of the action.
Instead of pursuing that medical career, he opened his first restaurant, Bacchus on the Beach in downtown Gulfport, when he was 21 years old. Now 27, Nicaud owns four Bacchus restaurants and is expanding into the hospitality industry with his first hotel.
Fittingly, the boutique hotel is in his hometown, Pass Christian. A Bacchus restaurant sits across the road, between East Scenic Drive and U.S. 90. He has big plans for the property west of Bacchus, too.
Nicaud is going to build Sandbar by Bacchus, with an infinity pool that appears to spill into the Mississippi Sound and harbor. He hopes to start work by October and open in early 2018.
The indoor/outdoor bar with a Caribbean flair will serve boiled seafood. Hotel and bar customers will be able to use the pool, which will have a swim-up bar.
But his newest baby right now is the Hotel Pass Christian, a four-story building where a condominium available for special events is perched above two floors of rooms. The hotel is vintage Pass Christian, with fans stirring the sea breeze on columned porches that span the top three floors.
On the first floor, a fitness center, and a salon and spa, are open for hotel guests and residents.
Nicaud’s mother, Jenny Nicaud, decorated the 10 rooms in a style best described as rustic chic: beaded chandeliers, painted wooden tables, canopy beds, sleek cream couches that are actually futons, metal bedside tables, and throw pillows and art that add splashes of color. Each room has different accents and furniture.
Suites overlook the harbor, while all the rooms have balconies with views of the city’s Live oaks and lush greenery.
Nicaud’s restaurant guests convinced him he should build a hotel. People were always looking for a place to stay.
“I knew as long as we didn’t do crazy-high prices, there was no way it wouldn’t do well,” Nicaud said.
He’s booked on weekends and occupancy on weekdays is at 40 percent, even though he’s been open only six weeks. The hotel gets a good bit of drive-thru traffic from Louisiana, Texas and Florida, but really, people come from all over the country.
Hotel Pass Christian is almost sold out for Cruisin’ the Coast in October.
A city that hasn’t had a hotel since the 1970s now has two boutique hotels. Another restauranteur, Thomas Genin, has opened Hotel Whiskey just down the street on Davis Avenue.
Nicaud was a sophomore in high school when Hurricane Katrina hit. His family lost everything. He and other students had to take a ferry to St. Stanislaus High School in Bay St. Louis because the bridge was out.
The storm also decimated Pass Christian’s tax base.
Twelve years after the storm, Nicaud said the city and the surrounding area have come back better than ever.
Mayor Chip McDermott said people like Nicaud have made it happen.
“He’s been a vital part of this town’s revitalization,” McDermott said. “He is a true asset and he’s still planning more things, too.”
Hotel Pass Christian
Room rates at the boutique hotel on East Scenic Drive in Pass Christian are $139 a night for a room to $209 for a king suite on weekdays. On weekends, suite rates are $50 higher and room rates are $30 more.
The hotel’s phone number is 228-222-2062.