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Myriad Hotel, Tempo by Hilton

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The Kentucky Derby is a reliable boon for area hotels as tens of thousands descend on Louisville to take part in the Run for the Roses.

To take advantage of this busy and lucrative time of year, hotels in development often strive to open in time to attract these derby crowds.

Last year, Hotel Genevieve on Market Street in Nulu applied to open in May, just in time to welcome visitors to the circuit.

This year, another hotel is scheduled to open in the Nulu area in a few weeks, the Tempo by Hilton Hotel on Jefferson Street.

Last year, hotel occupancy during Kentucky Derby weekend was 94%, with an average rate of $764 per night. In 2022, occupancy was 95% and the average price per night was $672.

Doug Bennett, executive vice president of Louisville Tourism, said it's no surprise hoteliers want to open the first weekend in May. The various Kentucky Derby Festival events and Kentucky Derby week races result in a massive increase in bookings and profits for Louisville area hotels.

“This is the beginning of their return on investment,” he said. “It’s a great motivator, especially because this weekend only comes once a year.”

Here are three hotels, in alphabetical order, experiencing their first Kentucky Derby.

4520 Poplar Level Rd

Churchill Downs Inc.'s 123-room Derby City Gaming Hotel opened in June 2023, making the 2024 Kentucky Derby season its first in operation.

When the hotel, located about 5 miles from the company's namesake racetrack, opened last summer, it featured an on-site restaurant, Oliver's Chophouse & Bourbon Bar, and a sports bar. The restaurant is named after Oliver Lewis, the winning jockey in the first Kentucky Derby in 1875.

The hotel is an addition to Derby City Gaming, which opened in 2018. In 2021, Churchill Downs Inc. announced a 135,000 square foot, $76 million expansion.

The play area has more than 1,300 historic racing machines and its own smoking and play terrace.

900 Baxter Ave.

This former disco ball factory opened in September 2023 to become the 65-room Myriad Hotel in the Original Highlands.

For its first Kentucky Derby, the hotel is offering a $35,000 “Ultimate Derby Dream Stay Package.” Only one package is being sold, which gives three couples three rooms for a three-night stay, box seats at the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, and dinner for six at the on-site restaurant Paseo.

On-site amenities include Paseo, which serves Southern European-style dinner and weekend brunch, and Switchboard, a cafe by day and bar by night. Special dinner and brunch menus are planned at Paseo for Derby weekend.

The hotel also features a saltwater pool surrounded by seating areas and an outdoor bar. This space, called Myriad Swim Club, will be the center of a Derby block party on May 4th, offering food (à la carte) and themed drink specials. For those not staying at the hotel, pool passes are available for $25.

Louisville developer Weyland Ventures purchased the property in 2019. Common Bond Hotels — a Weyland Ventures subsidiary co-founded by CEO Mariah Gratz — developed and manages the hotel and its amenities.

Room rates for Kentucky Derby weekend range from $1,000 to $2,500 (with a three-night minimum stay).

710 E. Jefferson St.

The 130-room Hilton-branded hotel is scheduled to debut on May 1.

The six-story Tempo by Hilton Hotel broke ground in March 2020 with the goal of opening for the Kentucky Derby in 2021. Construction was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic but resumed in 2022, and now, more than four years after breaking ground, the hotel is almost ready to open its doors.

Louisville's Tempo will eventually feature two dining areas. High Stakes Grill will be a full-service rooftop restaurant offering a “modern take on classic American grill.” Moonsong Café offers breakfast and lunch. Both are scheduled to open this summer.

The pet-friendly property will also feature a gym, meeting rooms and private dining/event spaces. Online booking shows the hotel is sold out from May 2nd to 4th.

Hilton opened its first Tempo hotel in New York's Times Square in August 2023, followed by a location in downtown Nashville in February. Hilton says more than 30 Tempo locations are in the works.

Hilton describes Tempo as a “stylish, modern lifestyle hotel brand” aimed at ambitious travelers “who want to maintain a sense of balance and dynamism.”

Louisville-based development firm Weyland Ventures is developing the property, partnering with Chicago-based First Hospitality.

Growth and development reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at [email protected], 502-582-4000 or on Twitter @mattglo.