July 21, 2021
Vera Bradley co-founder Barbara Bradley Baekgaard had a dream of building a place that made people feel as though they were staying at her private guesthouse.
The dream has become reality as the much anticipated downtown Fort Wayne boutique hotel, The Bradley, has opened its doors.
Through networking, Baekgaard arranged to meet the owner and CEO of Provenance Hotels, Katherine Durant. Magic was made.
“They quickly formed both a professional and personal bond,” The Bradley general manager Zach Miller said in an interview with Whatzup. “What The Bradley is now comes out of both their design and decoration confluence.”
Each of Provenance’s properties has a different story.
While guests can expect the same experience at any Provenance hotel, The Bradley delivers a distinctive experience, like reading through a story book, appreciating artwork, or having a unique view of the city.
“I think that makes it unique when you talk about going up against wonderful hotels that are largely built to facilitate the same sites, experience, designs, and decor,” Miller said. “We are super excited to be in this locality and offer this thing that has not been done yet.”
Supporting The City
There was no shortage of reasons for Provenance Hotels to choose Fort Wayne as the location for The Bradley. The company was eager to support the growth of both Headwaters and Promenade parks as well as the continuing development of the riverfront.
The 124-room hotel offers a variety of experiences to Fort Wayne locals. The new restaurants include Arbor, the ground-floor restaurant, and Birdie’s, the rooftop lounge.
Arbor serves a Midwest-chic cuisine that features familiar favorites like chicken pot pie but with a Provenance twist of local and fresh ingredients. Utopian roasted coffee is served in Arbor.
Birdie’s features signature cocktails from local distillers and vineyards.
“It’s one of our pillars to support the locality, so instead of finding French bottles of wine, we’d rather source local producers of their goods and highlight them,” Miller said.
Birdie’s rooftop bar offers a 280-degree view of the city. Residents will be able to see staples, like Headwaters Park and Promenade Park from the rooftop.
According to Miller, this restaurant provides a great opportunity for people to get out. Whether it’s after work, or on the weekend for morning brunch, guests can sit outside and enjoy some fresh air and great views while still being inside the city.
Trails and Art
The Bradley has been collaborating with the Fort Wayne Trails organization and is on its way to becoming a trail-friendly business. The hotel has implemented services and discounts for those who use the trail system.
“Fort Wayne Trails has done such a good job developing the trails,” Miller said. “If you’re out on a bike ride, walk, or run, you can stop here and refill your water bottles, refill yourselves with food and a beer, and take a second in the AC and experience community.”
Another important aspect of The Bradley is the art. Durant has always been an art lover, and all Provenance properties have their own art story. Julie Wall of Hedge Studios, Theo Smith — also known as Phresh Laundry — and students and alumni of the Purdue Fort Wayne Art Department are among the artists represented in The Bradley.
As The Bradley team began their search for local partners in the city, they commissioned Wall to complete all of the room pieces and were charmed by Phresh Laundry.
“Wall is an amazing artist, and you can’t miss Phresh Laundry’s murals,” Miller said. “We saw what he was offering, and his energy and enthusiasm charmed the team every time we met him.”
Guests will see the artists’ work upon entering the lobby and walking throughout the building. There is a rotating gallery highlighting the work of the Purdue Fort Wayne Art Department. Each piece in the gallery is for sale, and all proceeds go back to the students and alumni responsible for their creation.
“They are largely portrayed, so you can’t miss them,” Miller said. “We want all the money to go back to the artists themselves.”
Every six months, the art gallery will swap out the art with new themes and pieces.
“I know there is a huge art community, so we invite the lovers of art to our gallery to see what the Purdue Fort Wayne Art Department is producing,” Miller said.
Within the property, there are opportunities to host corporate, wedding, or other events. As a smaller property, The Bradley can accommodate parties anywhere from five to 200 people and have unique spots for each.
“We hope and wish the community will come to us first for their events and meetings,” Miller said. “We have beautiful spaces available for different reasons.”
This feature, as well as the ingenuity of the industry, has The Bradley team excited about their new property.
“We have the opportunity to be very creative with how we sell our spaces and how we operationally make events special and unique,” Miller said.
The Bradley staff hopes Fort Wayne residents will stay at the hotel and experience what they’ve been watching develop over the past two years.
“We want you to come enjoy the drinks, food, and coffee, but we also just want you to come in, say hello, and take you on a tour through the building,” Miller said.
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