Next Move for Shinola? A Big Ol’ Boutique Hotel in Detroit.

The heritage watch brand bets big on Motor City's revival

September 16, 2016 9:00 am

There’s a new lifestyle hotel coming to the Motor City, and the brand behind it may surprise you:


You might recognize the name for its wristwatchessmall leather goods and bicycles. But now the brand is channeling its energy into the development of a 130-room boutique hotel in downtown Detroit slated to open in Fall 2018.

Partners include Detroit-based real estate company Bedrock, which is owned by Dan Gilbert, who over the past five years has invested a reported $2.2 billion in downtown Detroit. The hotel’s design will be helmed by New York’s Gachot Studios and Detroit’s Kraemer Design Group.  

“Shinola is a design-driven brand, and we’re excited for this hotel to challenge our design team,” said Shinola president Jacques Panis on a phone call with InsideHook. “We’re a brand focused on creating good jobs in the United States. And we have an opportunity to train the city’s workforce — everyone from valet to the front of house to housekeeping — to create a tight-knit group of people that’ll bring a unique hospitality experience in the heart of Detroit.”

Photo: Flickr

“We want to let the city know this is home,” he added.

Positioned that way, the hotel is a logical move for a brand that’s built an identity on American craftsmanship and bringing industry back to Detroit. According to Business of Fashion, the company employs more than 500 people — 230 of whom manufacture goods in Detroit — and generated “close to $100 million” in sales in 2015.

So we’re talking big business. Business Shinola aims to funnel back in the community that made them.

“We believe the next phase in Detroit is vertical construction,” said Panis. And of the location in Detroit’s downtown central business district, he says, “It’s not about revitalizing, per se. And it’s not just Shinola.” The hotel will be footsteps from Ford Field and Little Caesars Arena, the new Detroit Red Wings’ arena set to open in 2017.

“It’s a busy area. Sidewalks are bustling. Retail is popping up. Residential occupancy in downtown is pushing 98 percent. We’re just focusing on bringing a world-class hospitality experience to Detroit.”

Which is essentially a fancy way of saying: If you build it, they will come.

It’s a big gamble, but given the brand’s quick (and savvy) rise to prominence thus far, it’s one we’ve got faith they can pull off.


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