Kessler’s latest Grand Bohemian Hotel set to open in Charleston

The newly built Grand Bohemian hotel in downtown Charleston is the first Kessler Collection lodging in South Carolina.

A boutique hotel opening in downtown Charleston aspires to combine the pleasurable themes of food and art.

The Grand Bohemian Hotel at Wentworth and Meeting streets will be greeting guests for the first time Thursday. The $30 million, 50-room hotel is part of The Kessler Collection, a group of luxury lodgings with 12 properties in several states. It’s being marketed and managed under the Marriott’s Autograph brand of specialty hotels.

“The Grand Bohemian is all about art and music and cuisine,” Kessler Enterprise Inc. CEO Richard Kessler said. “That’s really the things that we really focus on here.”

Along with a full-service restaurant and other standard amenities, the property includes a full-fledged art gallery and a wine-tasting and winemaking area, all open to the public. The property expects to generate around half of its profits from customers who aren’t paying guests.

“That local connection and patrons are very important to our brand and what we do here,” said Mark Kessler of Kessler Enterprise. “And that’s why we created these different experiences.”

In the wine-tasting room, guest can sample a rotating mix of 32 varieties. The on-site winemaking option is unique to the Grand Bohemian’s Charleston property, Richard Kessler said.

“They get to be the first in the country to have this experience offered,” he said.

The restaurant, called Eleve, has some bites of the South, but that’s not its main focus, said Laura Kessler Vantil, chief operating officer and president of Kessler Enterprise, which is based in Orlando, Fla.

“We saw a lot of Southern food definitely in the market. ... We didn’t really need to compete in that Southern space. So we’re really kind of keeping it contemporary European,” she said. “It’s a fair amount of French ... little bit of Southern.”

The Grand Bohemian held a job fair recently to hire about 120 employees.

Though most of those jobs have been filled, the hotel took some time to find a spot in downtown Charleston. Richard Kessler said he’d been looking at properties on the peninsula for a decade. The vetting from city officials took about a year.

“It was a challenge,” he said, noting the city needs to somehow make the approval process more simple.

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He does think they’ll want to do another hotel in the area.

“We think the market is good for us,” he said.

Kessler said he’s expecting occupancy to be high, around 90 percent. Nightly room rates average around $350.

Kessler Vantil said the property will respond to changing market conditions as the hotel matures.

“We’re very flexible, we like to change things a lot,” she said. “And so, as we decide that we need to add things or tweak the menu or do things like that ... we adapt to what we need to be.”

The Grand Bohemian is the second full-service boutique hotel to open in Charleston this summer. The Roaring ’20s-inspired Spectator Hotel at State and Linguard streets near the City Market opened in July.

Reach Allison Prang at 937-5705.