New upscale hotel planned for Domain

Shonda Novak |
Source: Austin American Statesman

A new hotel concept reminiscent of the roadside motor court hotels in the 1940s and 1950s will take up residence at the upscale Domain project in North Austin.

Billed as “a 21st century re-interpretation of the nostalgic motor court,” the upscale concept is the latest by Valencia Group. The Houston-based company develops and operates boutique luxury hotels, including the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Scheduled to break ground this month and open early next year, Lone Star Court will be built at the south end of the Domain project, which includes shops, restaurants, offices and apartments. The hotel will have 123 rooms and about 2,000 square feet of indoor meeting space. It also will include an outdoor covered pavilion of 1,600 square feet, plus an adjacent open-air lawn that will add 1 ,800 square feet to the total meeting space.

Valencia Group declined to disclose the project’s cost.

The hotel will be “one of a kind and totally unique to Austin, Texas,” Doyle Graham Jr. – founder, president and CEO of Valencia Group – said in a statement.

Lone Star Court in Austin will be the flagship of what will eventually be a series of court concept hotels across the southeastern United States,” each of which will “capture the essence of the cities where they are located,” said Graham, whose privately held corporation focuses on acquiring, developing and managing hotel properties.

Rates will range from $150 to $300 a night.

Valencia Group is touting the property as an “authentic Americana roadside hotel” inspired by the motor courts that were popular decades ago, before the interstate highway system spawned brand-name hotels along the roadways.

But it will also be a place where “nostalgia meets modern,” the company said.

There will be live music by an outdoor fire pit, a dipping pool reminiscent of Hill Country swimming holes, a restaurant and bar aimed at attracting locals and visitors, and rooms with high-tech amenities.

Kathy Shields, senior vice president for Simon Property Group, which owns the Domain, said the new hotel will be “very complementary” to the other two hotels at the Domain – a 340-room Westin and, in an adjacent mixed-use project Endeavor Real Estate Group is developing, a 140-room Aloft hotel, a Starwood brand.

“I think it will just be a very playful, fun, vibrant place,” Shields said, noting that it will be built on a 4.2 acre site that is the “last big development piece” at Simon’s Domain.

Roy Kretschmer, Valencia Group’s executive vice president of operations, said the company chose Austin to roll out its new concept “because of its genuine sense of place and connection with the outdoors, both of which are important elements of this new brand.”

And the Domain, Kretschmer said, “is the perfect place” for the hotel.

Kretschmer said Valencia Group plans to open 15 to 20 of the new court-concept hotels in the future and will target cities that, like Austin, “are the home of their state capitols and of major universities.”