On Friday, Aug. 11, McKibbon Hospitality’s AC Hotel Asheville Downtown will open to guests. Located at the intersection of Broadway and College Street, the hotel boasts 132 guest rooms, along with 336 parking spaces in a four-story parking deck. Of those spaces, 202 will be available to the public.
On the building’s ninth floor, rooftop bar and tapas restaurant Capella on 9 will be open to the public, offering indoor and outdoor seating and mountain views. Chef and owner of nearby Posana restaurant Peter Pollay will run the eatery and bar.
The AC Hotel brand is the namesake of founder Antonio Catalan. According to Michael Hickerson, the new hotel’s general manager, Catalan established the chain with 91 hotels in Madrid and Spain. Marriott acquired the portfolio of hotels and subsequently brought the brand to the United States in 2014. The first American AC Hotel was located in New Orleans.
“Today there are only 21 AC hotels open in the United States,” said Hickerson, “We will be number 22.”
Hickerson said Asheville’s AC Hotel will simultaneously introduce guests to Asheville while giving them a European experience. Guests will be escorted from the parking deck to the front desk to make the welcome more personal. The hotel aims to appeal to all the senses upon walking into the lobby. The “black leather scent of AC hotels,” according to Hickerson, is one of the brand’s signature traits.
“This is an experiential brand,” added Hickerson, “We’re also known as a lifestyle hotel, but mostly an experiential brand.”
John McKibbon partnered with Winford Lindsay Architect of Georgia to ensure the hotel’s design-led style remained simpatico with the AC brand. “They also partnered with Doug Stratton of Stratton Design Group in Asheville on the interior design and Brian Bunce of BB+M Architecture on the project’s exterior,” according to a McKibbon Hospitality fact sheet.
Local art is an important part of the AC Hotel experience in Asheville. McKibbon worked with Asheville-based Art Resources consultant Liz Barr to display 10 permanent art features by local and regional artists. Artworks ranging from paintings to sculptures to hand-blown glass pieces are exhibited throughout the hotel.
“Celebrating Asheville’s culture and diverse community is at the core of our vision for the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown,” said McKibbon. “By incorporating the work of talented local artists, we are able to bring even more of Asheville’s character into the hotel to create a truly special experience for guests and locals.”
Local artists featured include Cassie Ryalls Butcher, Colby Caldwell, Kato and Fred Guggenheim, Billy Guilford and Geoff Koslow of Lexington Glassworks, Hoss Haley, Carl Pittman, Virginia Scotchie and Constance Williams. Regional artists featured are Greg Fidler and Pablo Soto. Local Naomi Diamond Rodgers is the only artist whose pieces will be for sale.
As part of receiving approval for the renovation of the former BB&T building across the street, McKibbon made commitments to the Asheville City Council that include featuring local art and paying a living wage.
“John is still committed to paying the living wage and featuring local art at the Arras project,” added Lauren Bowles, spokesperson for McKibbon Hospitality. “Regarding the $250,000 for the city’s Housing Trust Fund, that’s already been given. However, the city determines how those funds are distributed. In addition to that, McKibbon Hospitality provided a $1 million interest-free loan for Eagle Market Place, which shows our commitment to help solve the affordable housing crisis in Asheville.”
The hotel also includes 2,000 square feet of meeting space on the ninth floor, which can be divided into two smaller spaces. Also on the ninth floor is the AC kitchen where a daily breakfast will be served. Products from local companies such as the French Broad Chocolate Lounge and Black Mountain French Press are featured in the lobby’s AC Store. The hotel sports a fitness and yoga center, as well as a library. In lieu of room service, the hotel equips each room with necessities such as bags of ice and a video tour, as well as free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. One unusual touch is the square toilets found in each bathroom.
The hotel can be reached at 828-258-2522 or online at the hotel’s website. While the indoor spaces of Capella on 9 will open the same day as the hotel, the outdoor spaces will open shortly thereafter.