Portales Inn getting remodel

Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan Maxwell Group LLC managing member Bob Morrow talks about the renovation plans for the Portales Inn while standing just inside the hotel’s entry off Avenue B. The group plans to turn the building into a boutique hotel with several kinds of food and beverage service on the first floor.

Argen Duncan

The Portales Inn is getting a facelift, a new name and a presidential atmosphere, the new owners say.

Maxwell Group LLC, a consortium of professionals, has purchased the inn, vacant for 12 years, with plans to remodel it into an exclusive hotel with restaurants and space for events, said managing member Bob Morrow.

Work has already started on the interior of the building. Morrow said he expects to work with local contractors in the renovation and operation of the facility as much as possible. Those negotiations are still taking place.

Morrow said the hotel would need 16 employees, and the food and beverage service on the first floor would require 30 or more.

As for the renovation, according to project information, it is projected to cost $2 million and employ about 50 local people.

“It’s better to bring it back rather than have this big empty shell sitting here,” said architectural partner R.J. Braught. “There’s plenty of need for it.”

Morrow said Portales has a high occupancy rate and needs more hotel rooms.

Maxwell Group will rename the inn “The Grand,” and renovate it in the presidential hotel style of the 1920s, Morrow said.

Braught said the style includes fluted columns, rich woods and the colors burgundy, olive and gold. Each of the 35 rooms and nine suites will be named for a U.S. president and decorated according to that theme.

“Our challenge, I’d say, is to maintain the ambiance of history and sophistication, and not renovate a hotel that looks ‘modern,’” Morrow said.

Morrow said planners are trying to retain original details and fixtures, but the hotel will also have modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi service and an exercise room. They’re also planning to make the building as energy-efficient as possible.

Morrow said the second and third floors would have single rooms with one suite per floor, and the fourth floor would contain suites organizations could reserve for their own use.

On the first floor, Morrow said, The Grand will have a bar with microbrew beers from across New Mexico, a wine and liquor bar, a coffee shop, a bakery, a sandwich shop and a fine dining restaurant.

Fitting with the presidential theme, he said, the restaurant would at times feature items from White House menus. Planners are trying to engender a fun, historic atmosphere in which people have more to relate to than just food, Morrow said.

Also on the first floor, he said hotel would have the ballroom remodeled with chandeliers and a refurbished stage, and a first ladies-themed meeting room.

Morrow expects most of the eating establishments to open sometime in the spring with the wine and liquor bar following in early summer. On the second floor, plans call for a rooftop dining area to open in late summer or early fall. He declined to offer any specific dates.

Morrow hopes guests will be able to stay on the second floor beginning in late spring or early summer.

“Hopefully people will come and enjoy the hotel as well as Portales,” Morrow said.

Room prices will be a little higher than Holiday Inn Express because The Grand would offer not just a place to stay but an experience, he said.

Break-out

• Maxwell Group LLC representatives are seeking community input on the renovation of the Portales Inn.

• To comment: Call Project Manager Davis Pulliam at 928-308-3265 after Jan. 5.