The resurrection of the "Pink Palace" has been a joy to behold. Downtown Bradenton's historic landmark remains two months away from opening but the community's anticipation is crystal clear. The new Hampton Inn & Suites expects to be booked solid for its first night -- mostly by Bradenton residents eager to re-establish a relationship with a place where so many fond memories were made.
The Manatee River Hotel dates back to the Roaring '20s, and the original grand staircase and exquisite floor tiles in the lobby will remain. Plus, original chandeliers will be placed in the colonnade, wooden ceiling panels will be hand-painted, and copper lanterns will probably grace the west entrance. Furthermore, the hotel will boast a lobby display of antique elevator dials and push buttons, a piece of the mail chute and mailbox, and other historic items -- a welcome tribute to the grand dame of Bradenton.
All this will be especially welcome by history aficionados, and there are plenty in this community. We're grateful to the Widewaters Group for these meaningful touches in the Syracuse, N.Y.-based company's $15 million renovation. We certainly support the developer's application for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
The hotel's director of sales and marketing, Kelly Ann Dixon, has apparently caught the Pink Palace bug, telling Herald reporter Charles Schelle this week: "I can't believe the love that everybody has for that building, and it's contagious."
Now a pleasant beige instead of pink, the hotel glistens once again. Opening night -- Nov. 19 -- will be a special day in the city's history and economic vitality. The hotel is already booking a slew of weddings and corporate events. And the hotel's job fair this week attracted a crowd of candidates.
That November date can't come soon enough.