EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The former hotel most recently known as the Airport Holiday Inn is preparing to reopen with a new use.
Signage for Melrose Assisted Living is already up on the building’s façade, facing U.S. 41. Owners are preparing the interior for residents, and they anticipate opening shortly after receiving a Letter of Occupancy from the state.
The ownership entity is Omninet, based in Beverly Hills, California. The owners’ abrupt decision to close the hotel in January 2020 surprised everyone, including the on-site manager and several guests who had checked in for the night.
Since its construction in 1988, the hotel has been a prominent front-door property to people traveling southbound into Evansville. The property had a Marriott flag in its earlier years, and during its heyday, it was one of the area’s nicer lodging spots.
It also hosted numerous local receptions, dinners and other special events.
Those uses are probably in the past, but Melrose Assisted Living officials said the property fits their own mission perfectly.
The hotel’s design reflected a 1980s trend of spacious, glassy atriums, where residents on upper floors could look down at the swimming pool and dining room. Residents of Melrose Assisted Living will now get to enjoy those balcony views.
The indoor pool will be an amenity for residents and guests visiting them, and “we’ll have aqua exercise therapies as well,” said Keith Gander, director of marketing and admissions.
“Our tagline is resort-style assisted living, and that’s truly what we’re building here,” Gander said. “There is no assisted-living facility that will have a pool, a spa gym, the things we’re offering in Southern Indiana or Western Kentucky. In this area, there will be nothing like it.”
Three meals and snacks will be prepared daily by a chef — the same chef who worked at the Airport Holiday Inn. Melrose will offer laundry services and regular off-site travel to residents.
Officials said caregivers will have instant, easy access to all resident medical information via a tablet. They said family engagement is a priority, and one relative or friend of each resident will be able to receive a daily electronic report on how the resident is doing.
Melrose envisions having 190 studio apartments for its residents. The building is five stories.
“Half of the building is close to being done,” Gander said. “There is discussion with the owners if the other half will be independent living or one-bedroom assisted living. There are still logistics we have to get worked out.”
In addition to the chef, a few other staff members from the Airport Holiday Inn have been retained to work at Melrose. They include the ex-hotel’s facilities manager, office manager and a few others.
“The owners kept some hotel staff on, and have kept them this whole time,” Gander said. “They are very family based, and they wanted to keep some continuity of the team here.”
Some workers who were dismissed when the hotel closed could return when Melrose opens, and the facility also will look to hire around 20 registered nurse and licensed practical nurse positions.
One nurse who will work at Melrose, Ashley Crafton, looks forward to the opportunity. Her background is in long-term care, and she said the new facility has plenty to offer residents and their loved ones.
“It’s enticing for the families to want to come and visit,” Crafton said. “It’s so unique, there are things for them to do besides just sit in grandma’s room.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed Melrose’s opening process, but officials don’t anticipate a much longer wait for their Letter of Occupancy.
Fire safety systems are being redone, and the parking lot will soon be repaved.
“It will be this year,” Gander said of the opening. “We’re thinking a couple months.”