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Hotel Whiskey in Pass Christian.

First of the new hotels soon to open in Pass Christian

By LISA MONTI

Hotel Whiskey in Pass Christian is running behind schedule but just by a couple of weeks. “Typical delays,” said owner Thomas Genin of the final touches. Opening now is set for the end of the month, when the 11-room boutique hotel in the city’s historic downtown welcomes its first guests.

The staff spent the past week in training, and all the equipment and furniture for the hotel and restaurant was due to be put into place. Interest in the opening has been running high among the locals and potential guests Genin said.

“Every day six or eight people show up to look around,” said Genin, who is devel-oping the project with builder Travis March.

It’s the first hotel for Genin, who owns The Blind Tiger in Bay St. Louis and Ajax Seafood Kitchen & Bar in Gulfport. He’s also building Blind Tigers in Biloxi and Slidell, La., and is putting in an oyster bar, a liquor store and a marine shop on the first floor of a condo development under construction across Beach Boulevard from the Blind Tiger in Bay St. Louis.

Pass Christian’s history includes noteworthy hotels but it’s been decades since one opened there. Now, in addition to Hotel Whiskey, two others are in the works. Jourdan Nicaud is building Hotel Pass Christian across Scenic Drive from his Bacchus on the Beach restaurant and Hampton Inn recently broke ground nearby.

City officials are understandably grateful for the development.

“We have not had a new hotel built in downtown Pass Christian since 1925, and the last time one was open for business was the 1970s,” said Mayor Chipper McDermott. “We have always felt a hotel was our missing piece before Katrina, but after it we felt it was a must. Now having two under construction and the Hampton Inn to start soon, I feel they are the straw that will stir the drink in creating our new downtown area. Having the ability to keep visitors overnight should make an enormous impact on our economy.”

Genin said social media is giving reservations at Hotel Whiskey a healthy kick-start. Travelers from England, Canada, France, Arizona and Maine already have made reservations on the hotel’s website. “The Internet is such a powerful thing for this type of business, it’s kind of freaky scary,” Genin said. “Nine of the 11 rooms are booked for the weekend of Oct. 21. We haven’t even advertised.”

The hotel also is booked for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and Mardi Gras 2017.

Rates for a standard room will be $149 during the week and $170 for the weekend. Suites will be $350 for weekdays and $450 for weekends.

Genin wanted to open a hotel alongside a previous restaurant back in 2009 when his customers, many from New Orleans ,told him they wanted a place to stay other than a casino hotel. Many of them had summer homes in Pass Christian that were destroyed by Katrina and they haven’t rebuilt.  “New Orleans will be our bread and butter customers,” he said. Even Coast locals are showing interest in staycations, he said. “People can park their car, swipe a credit card, have dinner, go to their rooms and drive home the next day,” he said.

The hotel and fine dining restaurant will have a staff of around 20. Genin put the cost for the land, the building and furnishings at approximately $1 million.

Genin said he welcomes the competition from the two other new hotels just as he does with other restaurants near his own. “My business in Bay St. Louis only got better as the town built up, and it keeps growing. I hope my little hotel convinces 10 other people to do what I did,” he said.

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