South Carolina’s first hotel bearing Marriott’s modern, European-inspired AC brand opened Dec. 14 in downtown Spartanburg.
Spartanburg’s Johnson family owns the $20 million, 10-story hotel at 225 W. Main St.
The 100,000-square-foot structure, which boasts 114 guest rooms, was developed and will be operated by Spartanburg-based OTO Development, a Johnson Management company.
“This AC Hotel reinvents the Spartanburg skyline,” said Geordy Johnson, CEO of Johnson Management, in a statement. “It’s a dynamic addition to a rapidly revitalizing downtown and everything — from architecture to amenities to artwork — is designed to introduce South Carolina to the AC brand’s ‘New Way to Hotel.’”
Johnson added that the AC Hotel Spartanburg is the first hotel to open in the city’s central business district since the Spartanburg Marriott was completed in 2004.
The project was announced in June 2015.
Construction began that October and was officially wrapped up on Dec. 12.
OTO said the hotel’s exterior is composed of nearly 250,000 bricks.
Built with sustainably in mind, the hotel is on track to attain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver Certification, OTO said.
The architectural design was a collaboration of Washington, D.C.-based David M. Schwarz Architects and Spartanburg’s McMillan Pazdan Smith, with interior work by DLR Group of Minneapolis. Alabama-based Robins & Morton served as general contractor.
“The level of detail is amazing,” said Corry Oakes, president and CEO of OTO, in a statement. “The hand of the craftsman is evident throughout.”
Oakes noted that the exterior stonework on the hotel incorporates custom motifs such as the jessamine, South Carolina’s state flower.
Interior common spaces incorporate crown moldings, raised paneling, and other traditional architectural detailing juxtaposed with modern fixtures, furnishings, and artwork, according to OTO.
The hotel has five suites and 109 guestrooms with either two queen-sized beds or a king plus pullout sofa.
“Our guestrooms are designed with a subtle European sensibility — neutral colors, sleek furnishings, natural lighting, and an open sense of space,” said AC Hotel Spartanburg’s general manager Alyssa Stroup in a statement. “The AC brand’s philosophy is to focus on essentials — and only essentials — so that there’s nothing unnecessary in the room, but what is there is better. So these rooms are incredibly functional, with details like adjustable reading lamps, USB charging ports, free WiFi, and a mini-fridge.”
The hotel’s lobby and second floor serve as a showplace for more than 40 pieces of art from The Johnson Collection’s portfolio of works from Black Mountain College, an experimental arts school that operated from 1933 to 1957 in Black Mountain, N.C.
Three meeting rooms that offer a combined 2,662 square feet of meeting space are named for some of the college’s leaders, including Anni and Josef Albers, Ruth Asawa, and Kenneth Noland.
The hotel’s carpeting was sourced from Spartanburg-based Milliken & Co.
“At AC Hotels by Marriott, we believe in paying attention to the details, and this is evident at the new AC Hotel Spartanburg,” said Benoit Racle, senior global brand director for AC Hotels by Marriott, in a statement. “From the architectural detailing to the nods to the brand’s European heritage that intermingle with local touches, every feature of the hotel has been carefully curated to give travelers an elegant, frictionless, and uncomplicated experience, whether they are traveling for business or leisure.”
Guests will be able to enjoy a range of other amenities, such as an outdoor pool with patio, a business center, and a 24/7 fitness room with 11 exercise machines and free weights.
The AC Kitchen will serve a European-inspired breakfast featuring freshly baked croissants, sliced prosciutto and cheese, savory and sweet breakfast tarts, yogurts, and fresh fruit.
An AC Lounge in the lobby emphasizes the brand-signature Gin & Tonic, Spanish wines, and crafted cocktails created with liquor distilled by Spartanburg’s Mottes & Sons Bootlegging Co., and local micro-brews from RJ Rockers Brewing Co. It will also have a tapas menu of small plates with a Spanish flair.
A train whistle will launch Happy Hour every evening in the AC Lounge, as the bartender offers samples of “The Crescent,” the hotel’s signature cocktail, along with the backstory of the drink’s namesake.
OTO said the Crescent was one of the first trains designed for passengers, with elegant dining, specialty cars, and upscale services. The train made stops in Spartanburg along its crescent-shaped route from New Orleans to New York.
The signature drink is a mix of Motte & Sons vodka, Palmetto Rum, gin, triple sec, sparkling peach juice, and a splash of lime juice, OTO said.
It celebrates Spartanburg’s history as “Hub City” for the seven railroad lines that accommodated trains carrying passengers, textile products, and peaches across the country, according to OTO.
Level 10, a restaurant operated by Greenville-based Rick Erwin Dining Group, will occupy the top floor of the hotel.
The high-end dining concept, which will open in late January, will have an open-air terrace, as well as a menu of seasonally driven small plates, handcrafted cocktails, and an expansive selection of wines.
Level 10’s dishes will feature tasting-style portions of pastas, seafood, lighter fare, and a few signature steaks. OTO said the restaurant’s emphasis on shared plates will enhance the hotel’s “community-driven Southern hospitality.”
The restaurant’s interior will feature sleek, sophisticated design by the Greenville-based architectural firm Craig Gaulden Davis. The design incorporates tailored materials, handcrafted finishes, custom chandeliers, and coffered ceilings.
“When it opens next month, Level 10 will reflect the same commitment to interior design, Southern hospitality, and quality service as AC Hotel Spartanburg,” said Rick Erwin, founder of Rick Erwin Dining Group, in a statement. “This menu and the unique atmosphere we have created is designed to cater to the city’s visiting guests as well as locals, whether for special occasions or simply for weeknights when they don’t feel like cooking at home.”
The lobby features a library with books from the Hub City Bookshop & Press, and a market that will sell a variety of locally sourced goodies, including Dottie’s Toffee and Crazy Good Jewelry.
Karen Williams, director of sales for AC Hotel Spartanburg, said the hotel will employ about 50 people. Level 10 will also employ about 50.
Williams said some positions for the hotel’s operation are still available. She said jobseekers for Level 10 should contact Rick Erwin Dining Group.
Local business leaders have continued to tout the hotel’s anticipated economic impact on downtown Spartanburg.
They credited AC Hotel Spartanburg as a major driver of the momentum that has attracted a spate of new dining and retail establishments, residential units and other development projects to downtown during the past two years.
“We are at one of those fortunate times in our community where we have several projects that are paradigm shifters for our downtown,” said Jansen Tidmore, executive vice president of Spartanburg’s Downtown Development Partnership. “The new AC Hotel is one of those paradigm shifters. It demonstrates that Spartanburg is no longer a sleepy mill town, but a business town.”
Tidmore said the hotel is expected to attract about 30,000 visitors to Spartanburg annually.
He said the increased foot traffic and image of success the hotel projects could entice more growth in the years to come.
“We are very excited about the completion and opening of the AC [Hotel] Spartanburg,” Johnson said. “We look forward to welcoming guests and hope they will enjoy the experience in this hotel. The AC will bring a very unique set of lodging and entertainment offerings for overnight guests and local visitors. Additionally, we remain excited about the impact on downtown Spartanburg and the increased pedestrian foot traffic for our local retail merchants.”