OXFORD — It’s not out of the ground yet, but all condominiums at the Ava Hotel have already sold. Developers of the project that’s about to get underway near downtown Oxford say it will be a perfect complement to the university town known for its charm and history.
Site clearing on Jackson Avenue will begin in the next few weeks for the Ava Hotel. That’s just five blocks off the famous Square and a stone’s throw from the Ole Miss campus, near the Ford Center and the Grove.
According to Jondi Brackeen, a consultant and hotel executive director in charge of pulling the project together, the boutique hotel will be five levels consisting of 85 rooms, spa, restaurant and 16 condos on top.
“The Ava will employ 65 to 70 people and will be a good economic boost for the city,” she said. “It will be excellent for economic development and tourism.”
Brackeen, who’s spent many years in the hospitality industry and was the first general manager of the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, says Oxford does not have a luxury property.
“There’s a shortage of rooms during periods because Oxford has become a destination,” she said. “It’s a great place to visit and has great shopping and restaurants. The town has kept its charm around the Square. There’s a need for an upper-scale hotel.”
She feels travelers are looking for an experience that goes hand in hand with the charm of the community. They want to identify a hotel with the local community.
“There’s a trend for hotels to be historical and be an experience,” she said. “That gives travelers a story of the local area. Even chains are trying to make things more personal. Travelers are tired of cookie cutter hotels.”
Brackeen moved to Oxford to work with this project and another one. She will make sure the vision of the developers is met, working with them from the ground up. She will also work with the Ava Hotel’s staff. The project is being developed by Oxford Hotel, LLC, a group of investors from Oxford, Jackson and Athens, Ga. They’ve done other similar projects. Completion is scheduled for early spring of 2008.
Brackeen says construction may go faster although the owners are not pushing it.
The name, Ava, was chosen because it means life in Hebrew. “That fell right into what we’re trying to do,” she said. “We’re inspiring a lifestyle. We tried to find a name with meaning and connection.”
In keeping with inspiring a lifestyle, the hotel will offer classes on various subjects and spa packages. Brackeen said space for the spa is not entirely set and may grow.
The Ava’s traditional Southern design will reflect local architecture. The interior will have a transitional, eclectic feel. “We want it to feel like it’s a collection of art and fine furnishings that have evolved over time,” Brackeen said. “It will have a residential feel.”
Developers had a big launch, and all of the 16 condos sold in three weeks. Brackeen said most of the 1,400- to 1,800-square-foot condos sold to alumni of Ole Miss. She describes the residences as high end with upscale finishes such marble and spa-like bathrooms. The condos can also be furnished. Each one will have two parking spaces and maid service.
“The condo owners can enjoy the amenities of the hotel,” Brackeen said. “We want them to feel like they’re guests all the time. They can use the concierge, spa and restaurant.”
She says the hotel rooms will have great furnishings and the same deluxe finishes that the condos have. The Ava’s Right to Reserve Program will ensure that frequent visitors to Oxford will always have a room waiting for them. Brackeen says it’s similar to a program Ole Miss did successfully with the Alumni House.
“People can pay ahead and secure a guest room for a period of 20 years,” she said. “They can mark the days they want and have the option to say they don’t want them. The program is transferable and can be used for our standard room, suite and deluxe room. We’ve just introduced it and have a lot of interest in it.”
The waiting list for rooms will begin six months before the hotel opens.
The Ava Hotel is trying to finalize who will have the restaurant and hopes to make an announcement soon. “It will be something that will add quality to the dining experience in Oxford,” Brackeen said.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.