Courtesy 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa
Two historic hotels, four minutes and under a mile apart, bring meetings to Eureka Springs, Ark., an Ozark Mountains town of 2,600 with nary a stoplight.
The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel are solid and longtime citizens. Like many local buildings, both are constructed of locally quarried limestone.
Perched on a mountaintop, the Crescent is set on 15 acres with an outdoor pool, formal gardens and woodland paths.
Downtown, the Basin Park’s front door opens into the heart of one of American’s top art towns.
Elise Roenigk owns both hotels. She and her late husband, Marty, poured millions into restoring the properties after they purchased the declining hotels in 1997.
“She is very committed to historic preservation,” said Jodie English, director of sales for both hotels. “Everything that can possibly be done to preserve the historic aspect of the hotels is done.”
A good example is a nearly completed installation of a new elevator at the Crescent, a project that has proved more challenging because of the hotel’s historical status. It has taken about two years and probably won’t come soon enough for the hearty bellmen who carry guests’ bags up and down the stairs. When it is completed though, the elevator will go from the bottom to the top of the hotel, which the old one did not do.
Two hotels operate as one
For meeting planners, the hotels’ proximity to one another and their shared management and ownership creates interesting opportunities.
Groups can stay and meet at the 76-room Crescent, have a happy-hour party at the Basin Park’s Lucky 7 Rooftop Billiards bar and return to the Crescent for a ghost tour.
Or they can make the 62-room Basin Park their home base and meet in the top-floor ballroom, heading up the mountain in the evening for cocktails in the Crescent’s gardens and dinner in its Crystal Dining Room.
Or, like an upcoming meeting of emergency communications professionals, larger groups can use both hotels and their combined 10,000 square feet of meetings space plus the Eureka Springs City Auditorium for general sessions.
Always, said English, the hotels operate as a unit. “I use them as one big hotel.”
Meeting sizes average 40 to 100 people, although many retreats and strategic-planning meetings are much smaller. With a top-floor ballroom and several small meeting rooms, “the Basin Park has more meeting space,” said English. At the Crescent, the Conservatory, a sunny room that was rebuilt by the Roenigks to duplicate a conservatory used by a girls school that was housed there in the 1930s, is the main meeting space. All meeting space at the Crescent is on the lobby level.
English’s recommendations to planners vary with the group’s purpose and audience.
“If they are looking more for a retreat, somewhere relaxed and serene and they don’t want a lot of extra activity, I look more to the Crescent,” she said.
Those who want a livelier setting would be steered toward the Basin Park, steps away from restaurants, shops and the dozen downtown art galleries that represent 1,000 local and area artists. Eureka Springs’ large and prolific artist community led American Style to designate it one of America’s top 25 art destinations. A generous list of local restaurants makes dine-arounds easy to plan.