Route 66 in the News
Name Change for Local Inn
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Out with the Vikings and in with the Route 66 road trippers.
Amrit and Amy Gill, the husband and wife development team, are the new owners of the Holiday Inn Southwest & Viking Conference Center, in Sunset Hills.
Holiday Inn Route 66 will be the new name, which refers to the hotel’s location on Watson Road, part of the Mother Road before it was replaced by Interstate 44 in the St. Louis area.
Meeting rooms will be named for cars — including Cadillac, Monte Carlo and Riviera — to remind customers of the famous highway that once ran past the hotel, Amy Gill said.
The Gills hope to increase the hotel’s popularity in the area but also want to appeal to Route 66 road trippers who follow the old highway in their 1960s muscle cars and other vintage vehicles.
The American driving tour first flourished along Route 66, which drew even more nostalgia seekers as a result of the early 1960s TV series “Route 66” about the fictional adventures of Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock in their Corvette convertible.
Gill said renovation plans include stripping the hotel of its “goofy little” window dormers and other modifications to reveal the building’s original sleek, mid-century modern style.
“It’ll be a really cool project,” she said.
The hotel remains open during its renovation.
The Gills began running the hotel early this year when a judge named their Restoration St. Louis as receiver for the hotel.
Eagle Bank had sought a receiver in a suit that said Viking Lodge and Restaurant Inc. and hotel owner Chris Kreutz owed the bank $9 million on a loan.
When their business was appointed as receiver, the couple had no plan to buy the 212-room hotel from Kreutz, whose family built the place in 1972, Amy Gill said. It was only later when they decided to buy the site.
“It’s just one of those things,” she said. “When you’re talking to people and hiring people and making commitments to people while getting deep enough into it to run it, you might as well own it.”
Amrit Gill said the project includes the $7.3 million purchase price and $4 million in renovations.
Gary Andreas, owner of H&H Financial Group Inc., a consulting firm in Chesterfield, said other hotel developers in St. Louis and Chicago took a look at the property before the Gills bought it.
Based in St. Louis, the Gills are known primarily for their residential and commercial renovation projects in midtown, Soulard and the Forest Park Southeast and Grove neighborhoods.
Their rehab of the historic Hotel Blackhawk in Davenport, Iowa, provided them experience in the hospitality business, but their focus remains on other types of commercial projects in St. Louis.
Regardless, a hotel project in suburban Sunset Hills doesn’t push them out of their comfort zone, Amy Gill said. Restoring the look of the 1970s Viking lodge is comparable to bringing back the original appearance of an old building in the city, she said.
The Gills said the complete rehab will include roofs and heating and air-conditioning equipment. Meeting rooms already are largely redone. After lobby work is completed, all guest rooms and baths will be refurbished. Amrit Gill said he hopes Holiday Inn Route 66 is completed by June.
An addition will be a curved, space-agey front entrance.
“I’m going with early Jetsons,” Amy Gill said.
~Tim Bryant, StLToday.com