By Bill Clevlen
If you’ve lived in Missouri for even a short while, you’re certainly familiar with the Drury brand of hotels. The mid-scale, limited-service hotel chain began in 1973 and has grown to over 150 properties in 25 states. A few years ago, I was delighted when Drury Hotels became one of my “Bill On The Road” website sponsors. As a result, I’ve had the good fortune to visit many of their properties around the country and stay in most of the newest additions to their portfolio. While you’re probably familiar with the exterior look of their hotels you see along the highway, you may not know that Drury has been adding more unique lodging experiences for travelers in the form of renovated and often historic buildings.
In San Antonio, Drury converted the old Alamo National Bank, located along the historic RiverWalk downtown. The building was constructed in 1929 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An incredible stained glass window towers over the front doors and original chandeliers drape down from a 50-foot-high ceiling. In Pittsburgh, Drury transformed a former Federal Reserve Bank building, complete with meeting space inside that was once oversized vaults. (The large, heavy metal doors are still intact.) Back in May, I stayed at the Drury Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which had been transformed from a vacant, aging hospital building. That property, which dates back to 1865, once served as the first hospital in Santa Fe. Today, it’s beautifully decorated with paintings from local artists and fully restored to its former glory, directly adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
In the last decade, Drury has purchased and saved at least ten historic buildings, including properties in New Orleans, Wichita, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. As a travel writer that’s often tasked with giving a nod to the hotels I stay in, I will say that having unique accommodations with an actual backstory makes it even more intriguing to potential visitors. “The Drury family has a special place in their heart for old and historic buildings” says Carrie Sheridan, the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Drury Hotels. “We are always on the lookout for a perfect opportunity to present itself to save or renovate a building.”
Safe And Secure
I recently visited one of the newest Drury properties in Downtown Nashville and immediately noticed the upgraded security. You were required to buzz into the hotel for check-in and then use your key to enter the main door, garage, and also the elevator. Chatting with a random guest during my stay, he mentioned how much he appreciated the extra safeguards, noting that some hotels in the area don’t have anything at all. All Drury hotels require guests to use a key after hours to enter their properties. “Safety for our guests is our number one priority” says Sheridan. “Whether that’s in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, or in Independence, Missouri – we want all of our staff and guests to be safe and secure.”
More Than a Bite to Eat…
The “5:30 Kickback” that Drury offers guests each evening is a welcome addition for many travelers, particularly families, in search of extra value. Let’s be honest – I’ve found myself too tired, too lazy, and yes, sometimes too cheap to head out and grab a meal while on the road. Depending on your taste buds or food preferences, many of the nightly offerings are good enough to call dinner. Sheridan notes: “We want to give our guests a value package that isn’t offered by our competitors. The ‘Kickback’ for some is a light snack before heading out to dinner, and for others, it is their dinner.”
If you’re traveling with young kids, especially today as prices continue to rise on just about everything, that extra meal is a huge benefit. Drury also offers complimentary beverages to guests during this time period as well. My Dad, who has stayed with me at several Drury properties, once suggested to an employee that they add a soft-serve ice cream machine to the nightly lineup. Then again, I’m pretty sure he’s made the same suggestion to his church and doctor’s office.
Bill Clevlen is a contributing writer from St. Louis.