If flying the increasingly crowded and congested skies seems less and less appealing, riding the rails to your next business event might just be the more comfortable ticket. Making it an even more agreeable alternative is the fact that several historic hotels that were built during the great steam age of travel are still in business. At the same time, some new entrants are poised to make their mark on new rail lines gearing up for service. Here are five exciting options with group appeal.
• The 124-room Central Station Hotel, a Curio by Hilton, is set to open this September following a nearly two-year long gestation within the historic Central Station building in downtown Memphis' South Main District. The boutique property's guest rooms will have views of the Mississippi river and Memphis; walls adorned with impressive photographs from local artist Jamie Harmon; and audio speakers by Memphis-based audio designer Jim Thompson that are programmed to play curated music. Also on tap, a full-service restaurant; a craft-cocktail lobby bar and listening room that will host an expansive collection of curated vinyl records relating to the city's rich music scene; and over 7,500 square feet of meeting space, all stamped with the rich character of the 105-year-old train station.
• The 537-room St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, actually dates to 1894, when Union Station opened its doors. A recently completed $50 million renovation of the station's Grand Hall, which also doubles as the hotel's lobby, has breathed new life into this grand historic room with its immense barrel-vaulted ceiling, 65-foot-tall Tiffany stained-glass windows, and all manner of frescoes, mosaics and gold-leaf detailing. Don't miss the nightly 3-D laser light show created by Technomedia, an award-winning collaborator with entertainment company Cirque du Soleil, which is a virtual explosion of color, light, fireworks, music and sound effects.
• The 125-room Union Station Hotel Nashville, a member of Marriott's Autograph Collection, is located within downtown Nashville's historic Union Station. A $15.5 million restoration has restored the property as the reigning queen of Music City. While the hotel's barrel-vaulted lobby ceiling, featuring gold-leaf medallions and 100-year-old luminous prism-stained glass, is the major draw of this historic landmark, other rich architectural details include vintage marble floors, three limestone fireplaces and 20-carat gold-accented bas-relief figurines depicting the Angel of Commerce. The hotel features 11,000 square of meeting space, including the Azalean Room, adorned with magnificent chandeliers, that once served as the original entrance of the train station.
• The 225-room Union Pacific Hotel is being planned for Salt Lake City's historic Union Pacific Station at The Gateway. In April, members of the City Council voted unanimously to approve a loan of up to $7 million to the Phoenix-based Athens Group to begin development of the $79.8 million property, which will be set within an eight-story tower at the open-air shopping and entertainment center on the western edge of downtown. The hotel, which will include 6,000 square feet of meeting space, is planned for completion and a debut by year-end 2022.
• The 120-room Hotel Vin, a Marriott Autograph Collection property in Grapevine, Texas, is set to open in January 2020 with a ballroom, meeting rooms, a rooftop plaza and a spacious commercial retail space to be known as Heritage Hall. The boutique hotel will complement the city's new long-awaited train station, which will be one of nine stops on TEXRail, a 27-mile commuter rail line that began service in January 2019 and which will extend from downtown Fort Worth right into DFW International Airport's Terminal B.