The Union Club Hotel will be “a new era … (of) an elevated hospitality experience” when it reopens in August, General Manager Vicki Wicks said walking through its halls Monday morning.
The hotel, which was originally built in phases from 1929-53, has not seen “significant upgrades” since it was last renovated in 2000, according to Purdue. This project is being overseen by the private hotel management company White Lodging.
All changes, cosmetic and functional, were made with the University in mind, Wicks says. The rooms — all 182 of them — are filled to the brim with “homages to the University.”
The vanity mirrors are shaped like the Purdue crest. The wall-mounted lamps, which hang over black marble desks, are reminiscent of the ones dormitories used to have. The carpeting of the rooms is woven to resemble the iconic “Purdue plaid” design. The golden headboards are shaped to give the room an “aeronautical feel.”
Additionally, each room will have custom made artwork that showcases the 151-year-old Boilermaker spirit, Wicks said. All of the pieces were specially curated by Purdue representatives.
The renovations don’t stop at just the guest rooms, though. They also include a completely remodeled lobby area, fitted with vaulted ceilings and skylights, a fire fixture and a classic hotel revolving door.
Just to the left of the lobby, the new hotel will offer more new features: “elevated” dining options, Wicks said.
The space will house three restaurants: 8Eleven, a modern bistro named after the two spacecrafts piloted by Purdue alumnus Neil Armstrong — Gemini 8 and Apollo 11; Leaps, a coffee bar that will serve locally brewed roasts and freshly baked pastries; and Boiler Up Bar, “the only iconic cocktail bar in the area,” which will offer upscale cocktails, whiskeys and wines.
Wicks said Boiler Up will also feature a “whiskey room,” a dining room with three walls lined with bottle shelves, in which “patrons will have the opportunity to taste whiskeys and bourbons.”
The vision for the renovated hotel was definitely modern but still “very Purdue,” Wicks said. All of the features were designed to not feel out of place with the building’s iconic features, like the original wood panelling and stained-glass windows.
The goal, she said, is for it all to meld together so the hotel still feels like the Purdue original.
“We want (our visitors) to be proud they went to school here, or we want them to wish they did.”
Wicks, who has now managed renovations and helped open seven hotels since 1999, said that she is most excited about the hotel's continued partnership with the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
The HTM 181 course includes a lab in which students are given the opportunity to shadow four different departments within the hotel. With the new space and the help of White Lodging, the lab will be revamped "with new twists," Wicks said.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the $30 million project is still on schedule, and the hotel plans to open on Aug. 5. All construction will be completely finished by that date, Director of Construction Robert Smith said via email last week.
Every construction worker who enters the hotel’s premises is being screened, Wicks said. She added in an email that, when the hotel opens, all associates will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms regularly, though those protocols will not apply to guests.
The hotel is also working to fill over 100 hourly positions, and "hiring is happening every day." If you're interested, visit White Lodging's office space on the second floor of the Purdue Memorial Union, in room 216.
According to the booking website on Monday, guests are now able to reserve rooms, which range in price anywhere between $220-550, either online through the hotel's website or by phone at (765) 494-8922.