Chattanooga welcomes first luxury boutique hotel

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AAHOA member Mitch Patel ensured that The Edwin, from its inception, was designed to tell the story about this Tennessee city through its location, artwork, and cuisine.

by Lisa Kopochinski

Drawing inspiration from Chattanooga’s rich history, hotelier Mitch Patel is thrilled to have had the opportunity to develop The Edwin, his hometown’s first luxury boutique hotel, which opened in September.

“We knew that Chattanooga needed a hotel of this caliber, and the site was one that we had contemplated for years,” says Patel, president and CEO of the Vision Hospitality Group, a company he founded in 1997.

“From inception, The Edwin was designed to tell a Chattanooga story and, therefore, could not exist anywhere else. From the hotel’s name to the signature scent, each detail was thoughtfully crafted with our local story in mind. Honoring our hometown is of the utmost importance to us.”

Located at 102 Walnut Street, in the heart of the city’s downtown Bluff View Arts District, The Edwin was named after Edwin Thacher, who led the development of the historic Walnut Street Bridge in 1890. The bridge connects Chattanooga’s downtown neighborhood to the city’s North Shore.

“Our aim is to make The Edwin a cultural hub where both visitors and locals feel drawn to experience our modern-day Southern hospitality,” Patel explains. “We’re proud to pull the deep-routed history of the city to create a new destination where design, art, food, and drink capture the spirit of the American South.”

With help from the Gettys Group – a hotel design and development firm offering a variety of unique services to the hospitality industry – the hotel has 90 guest rooms and suites that range from 330 to 525 square feet.

“We wanted The Edwin to feel fresh, yet familiar, and a bit whimsical,” Patel says. “We created lively colorful spaces that drew inspiration from traditional Southern design.”

In addition to the guest rooms, The Edwin has four Riverfront Suites that offer a view of the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge. What is especially unique is that each suite has a Crosley record player. Guests are invited to borrow albums from the hotel’s listening library, located on the fifth floor.

Artwork and Cuisine

In keeping with the spirit of Chattanooga, The Edwin also features numerous works of art by local artists.

“We always knew that art would be a focal point of the hotel and, as we resolved our vision, we realized that if we wanted to tell a Chattanooga story, it only made sense to solely feature art from local artists,” Patel explains. “With that in mind, we curated a collection of over 200 pieces from more than 70 artists in the Greater Chattanooga area. We have the largest collection of local art in the city, which would suggest we have the largest collection of Chattanooga art in the world.”

The hotel also features Chattanooga’s first rooftop bar (Whiskey Thief) and restaurant (Whitebird), which connects visitors and locals to Chattanooga through its offerings of elevated Appalachian cuisine.

With a number of different food and beverage outlets available at The Edwin, Executive Chef Kevin Korman strives to honor the indigenous bounty of the Tennessee River Valley through artful culinary creations that “breathe new life into the victuals of the American South,” Patel says.

Whiskey Thief offers visitors an array of artisan cocktails, craft beers, and innovative bar bites in a Prohibition-style setting.

“Partnering with local producers whenever possible allows us to ensure that the dining experience of our patrons includes ingredients at the peak of their freshness and flavor, supporting our mission to connect people to the absolute best that Chattanooga has to offer,” Patel says.

Project Challenges

Opening the first luxury boutique hotel in Chattanooga was no easy feat and certainly not without its challenges.

“When we talk to other developers about The Edwin, we find they don’t realize one of the most daunting aspects of developing a boutique hotel is that it is not built from a kit of parts, akin to a prototype, branded property,” Patel says.

“Everything about the process is bespoke and, as a result, requires more attention, time, effort, and expense,” he adds. “We chose, designed, or fabricated everything in the hotel and quickly realized that this was going to be an intensive, intimate, and ultimately rewarding process.”

Essentially, Patel says travelers are looking for unique and memorable experiences.

“And a visit to The Edwin would certainly provide this,” he says. “Everything about The Edwin, from its location and name to its art and food, celebrates Chattanooga.”

That it does. Edwin Thacher would be proud.

Hotelier Mitch Patel says the aim was to make The Edwin a cultural hub where both visitors and locals would feel drawn to experience modern-day Southern hospitality.

Developer Mitch Patel has a deep passion for the hotel industry

Chattanooga hotel developer Mitch Patel grew up in the hotel business. As a young child, he lived in Stockton, CA, with his family, which ran an 11-room motel before relocating to the Bible Belt for another hotel opportunity.

It wasn’t until he earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and worked as an engineer that he realized that engineering was not his dream.

So, with $3,000 in his savings account, Patel formed Vision Hospitality Group, Inc. in 1997, and he couldn’t be happier with his decision.

“When you love what you do, and you have a passion for what you do, you are going to work harder and do more to overcome obstacles to find success,” he says.

Under his leadership as president and CEO, Chattanooga-based Vision holds a growing portfolio of hotels affiliated with premium brands such as Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International, including the company’s first boutique hotel, The Edwin.

Under Patel, Vision has been the recipient of numerous awards, as well as industry media recognition in the fields of development, community service, design, and achievement. Most recently, Vision received the:

  • Marriott International Developer of the Year Award
  • Marriott International Spirit to Serve Award
  • Developer of the Year Award for the Hampton Brand by Hilton Worldwide
  • Multi-Brand Developer of the Year Award by Hilton Worldwide.

Patel serves on the Marriott International Franchise Advisory Council and the Hilton Worldwide Owner’s Advisory Council.

Maintaining his presence in local organizations in Chattanooga, Patel also currently serves on the boards of the Benwood Foundation, River City Company, and the University of Chattanooga Foundation. He also is the vice chair of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and an advocate for ending human trafficking in the hospitality industry.

“Community has been the pillar of our company and of our culture,” Patel says. “The Golden Rule to treat others like you want to be treated is the foundation of this company. I think everyone can relate to it.

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