Business News for the Mississippi Delta

On The Horizon

Two new hotel developments will bring luxury and fun to Cleveland

By Angela Rogalski

Photography by Holly Tharp

Two new destination hotels will be opening up in Cleveland over the next few years and will add a heightened level of luxury accommodations to the city, and some entertaining fun and fitness components.

Luke Chamblee, President of Chamblee Hospitality Group in Oxford is leading the development of a new boutique hotel, restaurant, and spa on Cotton Row in downtown Cleveland. Chamblee says he has familial ties in Cleveland and has always loved the city and Mississippi Delta in general.

“I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 12 years visiting my in-laws, Mark and Kathie Boone, in Cleveland. It has a fantastic level of energy and authenticity. The downtown market has a wide range of businesses from flower shops, art galleries, boutique clothing stores, frame shops, restaurants, and many others. We felt like a lifestyle hotel in the middle of the other creative amenities downtown would be a fantastic fit that would benefit the entire community. Travelers will be able to park their car and shop, eat, and sleep in Downtown Cleveland.”

Chamblee says the new hotel will have 95 rooms, along with a restaurant and spa.

“The property will be located where the Wholesale Hardware Store and Perry’s Pawn Shop buildings currently sit. Most of these two properties will be demolished. We are going to keep about 2,500 square feet of the hardware store. It is too beautiful to tear down, so we’ve decided to keep it and work it into our design. It has 23-foot ceilings, big beautiful windows, and overall great bones to work with. We’ll turn this into a banquet/events space for larger functions like wedding receptions and concerts. The hotel will have 95 rooms, fitness studio, spa, first floor restaurant, and a rooftop bar to go along with the events space.”

Chamblee adds that his group has partnered with Cole Ellis, chef and owner of the Delta Meat Market in Cleveland, to run the restaurant and bar for the hotel.

“We couldn’t be any more excited about partnering with Cole for the Food and Beverage outlets.  Cole has made an outstanding name for himself nationally. When the opportunity presented itself for us to work together on this project, it was an easy decision for us.”

Chamblee is very pleased with the location for the new hotel and says the old hardware store is a gorgeous choice.

“When we really started looking hard at Cleveland it was imperative to me that the location be in the Central Business District. I’m attracted to positive energy, creative people, and partnering with local merchants in hopes that we give guests the best possible experience they can have. By being downtown we have so much more to offer our guests. They can go next door to get a picture frame, dine at a number of restaurants, go to the yogurt shop, or shop at a number of clothing stores. Downtown energy is hard to duplicate, and it was a necessity that we develop in the middle of it. We took the same approach in Oxford when we started planning our Graduate Oxford development; our guests have really enjoyed being in the middle of the action. I envision our Cleveland guests having a similar experience. We’ll also have a shuttle taking guests to/from the GRAMMY Museum, Delta State University and other local attractions.”

As far as an opening date, Chamblee says as long as the weather isn’t a hindrance and nothing unforeseen pops up, the hotel and spa should hopefully open up sometime around spring 2018.

Other Chamblee Properties include The Graduate in Oxford, Miss., Holiday Inn Express in Flowood, Miss. and Candlewood Suites in Flowood. They are also under construction on a 93-room Home2Suites in Oxford, with an expected opening of April 2017 and are about to begin construction on a 100-room Hotel Indigo in Hattiesburg, Miss.

“Over the last decade my wife, Beth, and I have fallen in love with the City of Cleveland and especially the people,” Chamblee says. “There aren’t a lot of markets in America that are truly unique and Cleveland is just that. Cleveland has rich history and a very bright future. There’s a lot of wind at the back of this community and hopefully our project will help the city grow and prosper. Every one of the city officials that we have spoken to and worked with has been incredibly helpful. We look forward to continuing to work with them and getting the project started.”

Dinesh Chawla is CEO of Chawla Management and says he is excited about his company’s latest investment, The Lyric Hotel and Spa, a musically-themed boutique hotel which will be located at the west end district of Cleveland, 1300 West Sunflower Road, more commonly known as Hwy. 8 West.

“The Lyric will be a 100-room, 60,000 sq. ft. hotel and with all of the support buildings added, it will be closer to over 100,000 square feet total, but the actual hotel will be 60,000 sq. ft.,” Chawla says. “It will have a full-service spa, multiple restaurants, and we’re going to have a meeting facility, also a tour office, outdoor patio seating, multiple musical stages and platforms for outdoor concerts, fountains, a two-acre lake with a pier, and there’s going to be one outdoor concert venue that can host as many as 2,000 people. And inside there will be nine restaurants.”

Chawla says the target open date for The Lyric is fall, 2017 and the approximate cost of the hotel between $17 and $20 million dollars. Chawla has been in Cleveland since 1992 and owns 18 hotels throughout the Mississippi Delta.

“We own Hampton Inns, Holiday Inns, Comfort Inns, an EconoLodge and Rodeway Inns,” Chawla says. “I’ve been in the hotel business for almost three decades, my brother and I getting involved through our father. My dad passed away in 2015 and now my brother, Suresh and I run the company. We have a lot of dedicated managers of our properties and we all work as a team.”

Chawla adds that he and his brother saw a great opportunity in Cleveland and wanted to give something back to the community if possible by building a hotel that was more of a destination than just an overnight stay.

“We saw an opportunity and decided we should act on it,” he says. “This kind of hotel would not make it by itself. We’re going to be promoting tourism in Cleveland at our own cost because we feel Cleveland has a lot of attractive things to offer.

“We’re going to be promoting special packages that we feel with all of these things together; we’ll be in a unique position to offer people a really interesting stay with us. And we can’t do that with our existing hotels. The existing hotels that we have are more about overnight stays.

“We hope The Lyric Hotel will make people want to come to Cleveland as a base and explore all of the wonderful things about the Delta as a whole. We hope people will take advantage of all of the extra amenities that we’ll be offering, such as the spa and the pier, etc. With the GRAMMY Museum and all of the other great attractions around the area; by partnering with all of these great museums and places, we hope to create many different opportunities for guests to experience while visiting the Delta and that they’ll want to stay with us at The Lyric while they’re exploring. And we’re very grateful that Cleveland is such a well-organized and pro-business community. We’re very excited about creating somewhere between 100 and 120 jobs for the community. We feel that will be a positive return for the city’s economy.

“We’ve been here for a quarter century now and we’re really appreciative of having the opportunity to be a part of the city and the community for so long. Cleveland has always been very receptive and supportive of our hotels and we hope this will be a small measure of gratitude to them as we thank the city for its kindness to us all of these years.”