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Building on Curiosity, HotelRED Keeping on Wraps as Opening
Nears in Madison, Wisconsin

By Jane Burns, The Wisconsin State JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 20, 2011--The staff and owners of HotelRED know there's a ton of curiosity about the hotel across from Camp Randall Stadium. Even so, they're planning to milk it just a little bit longer.

That's why the windows are still covered with paper as the hotel makes its final push for a soft opening in August. Inside, staff is being trained and furniture is being installed in the 48-room hotel at the intersection of Monroe and Regent streets.

"We want to build on that curiosity," said Jason Ilstrup, the hotel's general manager. "No matter what happened before, we're here now."

The project was begun by Madison architect and developer Bob Sieger, but construction stopped in October 2009 because of financial problems. In March, the hotel was acquired by Houston-based Red Hospitality. The company's president is Mike Erikson, Sieger's son-in-law. Sieger has remained as the project's architect.

The rooms vary from a 350-square-foot space to a two-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot suite. Rooms facing Monroe and Regent have balconies. All have kitchenettes, flat-screen high-definition televisions and free wireless Internet.

"Everybody keeps saying football games should be great here, and I agree," Erikson said. "But we also have the other 358 days a year. We want to create someplace people want to come to all year long."

Besides Badger fans, Erikson says the target market is also visitors to UW-Madison, both researchers and parents, as well as leisure travelers.

Even when the paper comes off the windows, curiosity about the hotel likely will continue because of its unique design. Rooms don't have carpet; their concrete floors will be covered with rugs. The furniture is contemporary.

"It's a very clean design with modern lines," Erikson said. "In Holland and Germany, you see a lot of designs like this."

The hotel will be managed by Fort Atkinson-based Inn Development and Management, which specializes in boutique hotels in Wisconsin and Iowa.

Rates have not been finalized, said Connie Barbian of Inn Development and Management. The hotel's reservation system is being installed this week.

The hotel will also have a restaurant and bar on street level. Even so, Erickson says he doesn't want HotelRED to compete with Monroe Street businesses but to complement them. He has met with neighborhood businesses and residents and plans to give merchants a tour of the hotel before it opens.

"We want to create an anchor in the neighborhood and be something the whole neighborhood is proud of," Erikson said. "We know we can't be successful without the locals, we want them to be happy with the place."


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Copyright (c) 2011, The Wisconsin State Journal

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