By Kathryn Papp, Alexandria
To the editor:
Recently, on a hiking trip along the Appalachians, I had the pleasure and pain of three different hotel experiences. One of them took place in the Hotel Indigo in Asheville, N.C., and the experience there may indicate what the new Carr City Centers’ hotel at the foot of Duke Street could offer.
From a distance, the Hotel Indigo in Asheville looked like fun. It fit the trendy, artsy-craftsy feel of Asheville’s downtown. Set just off the highway and surrounded by an urban hardscape, our first experience was with an attendant, who directed us to park below and indicated there were carts we could use to haul our luggage. It was a long, hot walk rolling the bags to the cramped elevator.
Arriving in the lobby, we were met by scurrying members of the hotel staff, who ran between the front desk, eating area and lobby space. It was colorful and chaotic while creating an ambiance of high panic.
Our penthouse room boasted room-spanning windows with a view. It also was cramped with no room (for more than one) to sit with a cocktail and enjoy the panorama. As in a student dorm, others apparently were expected to sit on their beds. The shower in the bathroom leaked onto the floor. We had one rather small bar of soap for all to share. There was space for little more than one backpack.
The wait staff started the next morning by announcing that the waffle machine was broken and were puzzled by a guest question about bread. Sitting in the combined lobby was somewhat entertaining, although noisy and agitated, and created an anxious feeling. Guests appeared subdued, as they engaged in a do-it-yourself hotel encounter — an Hotel Indigo experience.
In contrast, Mitchell’s Lodge & Cottages in Highlands, N.C. was (and is) a cozy and quaint lodge run by the third generation of the same family. It felt as if you were in a place like nowhere else — because you were. The generous spirit of the owners made you feel welcome. Breakfast was spent swapping hiking tales and laughs with other guests and, as with Old Town, it was effortless “branding.”
I hope the new Indigo in Old Town will fit in with our historic district’s distinctive flair, beauty, unique ambiance and long-standing reputation for creating a welcoming and well-tended experience.