FAYETTEVILLE — The address is the same — 70 N. East Ave. Even the phone number remains unchanged.
But to look around the Chancellor Hotel now, it looks like a place one might see in San Francisco, New York or any one of several luxury golf communities in Florida. The multimillion-dollar transformation from mostly unusable space is a source of pride for owners Ike Thrash of Dawn Properties in Mississippi and Sam Alley, CEO of Arkansas-based VCC Construction.
“It exceeded my expectations,” Alley said. “The community and the university have been so supportive, it’s been beyond my comprehension.”
And it’s right off the Fayetteville Square.
“Being able to be on the square and give Fayetteville the property that it needs ... I feel very fortunate,” Alley continued.
The hotel will be dedicated with a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. Friday (Sept. 14) to be attended by Gov. Mike Beebe. Thursday’s preview party gave special guests an inside look at the hotel’s rooms and common areas and a chance to taste gourmet goodies from the hotel’s restaurant, Union Kitchen+Drinks, owned by Scott Bowman.
When Thrash and Alley closed on the property late last fall and began construction, the Arkansas-Alabama game seemed a lifetime away. But even as the party was going on — and guests filled every corner of the lobby and restaurant — guests were checking in for the weekend. Some special party-goers were invited to stay overnight for free.
One of Fayetteville’s tallest buildings — only Hillcrest Towers could be taller — the hotel encompasses 207 rooms, including 15 luxury suites. Perhaps the two most popular are the 1,800-square-foot Chancellor’s Suite (with a view of the UA campus) and the 1,400-square foot Old Main Suite, which boasts a view of Old Main.
The hotel was named, with permission, for UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart. Alley is a late ‘70s UA graduate with a degree in civil engineering.
The UA’s role in the success of the hotel is that the university will draw guests “not just from all over the country, but all over the world,” Alley said. “We want people to go back to other states such as New York and Florida and even overseas, whether it’s Dubai, China or Japan, and speak about having such a wonderful place here.”
Seemingly everything on the hotel’s swanky decor is emblazoned with a round “C” for Chancellor, connected with a red square, which pays homage to the hotel’s place on the historic Fayetteville Square.
Thrash and Alley enlisted help from a number of professionals, including Bowman, who owns, among other eateries, the Theo’s restaurants in Fayetteville and Rogers. Others who contributed were the architectural firm of Flick Mars in Dallas, interior designer Tobi Farley of Little Rock and landscape designer Chris Olsen of Botanica Gardens.