‘Chancellor’s House’ Revealed
Oxford Citizen, Errol Castens
When Texas oilman David Porter and his wife came to Oxford to visit their son, then a sophomore at the University of Mississippi, they couldn’t find a hotel room in town. They ended up in another city and spent far too much of their weekend shuttling back and forth.
“I talked to some of our friends and said, ‘What if you could build something really nice, where you could just park at the hotel, walk to the Square, walk to the school, and leave that car and just enjoy visiting with our sons and daughters and enjoy this wonderful place?’” Porter said. “To a man or a woman, everybody said, ‘That’s a great idea.’”
The result is The Chancellor’s House. Porter put together a team of investors and developers – Ole Miss graduates Tommy Stone, Amanda Brown Olmstead, and brothers Freddie and William Alias – and secured a site for a hotel on one of the city’s most prominent intersections, within easy walks of the Square and the university campus.
“Many people confuse ideas with dreams,” said William Alias, who has launched some 15 businesses from credit security to hotels. “An idea captures people’s minds, and a dream captures people’s hearts. It takes a uniting of hearts and minds, fully committed to the effort, to make a dream a reality.”
Their vision, after a few early challenges, is now under construction and is scheduled to open next summer.
The partners staged the reveal for their vision on Friday at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Oxford. Attracting several state and local officials include Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, Oxford Mayor George Patterson and acting Ole Miss Chancellor Morris Stocks, the event featured an elegant luncheon by Elizabeth Heiskell Catering, anchored by an ice sculpture of the hotel, detailed down to the balconies and courtyard fountain.
Scheduled to open in summer 2016, the Chancellor’s House will offer 31 suites and rooms, along with a grand ballroom, a British-inspired paneled library with fireplace, underground valet parking and five food-and-beverage venues, including a rooftop terrace and a formal tea room.
Each room or suite will have its own balcony or terrace, 60-inch flat-screen TV, recessed ceilings and the hotel’s own brand of bath amenities.
“We’ll have butlers on each floor, and if you choose to reserve one of the signature suites, the suite comes with its own personal butler,” said Michael Donoghue, managing director of Chancellor’s House Management Group. “It’s convenient for all the market generators we have – football, the university, tours.”
Porter said the university’s attraction for business and leisure travel as well as Oxford’s perennial position as a top-10 college town make the city a natural market for such a luxury hotel.
“We also plan to have programs that will bring people to Oxford, not just in football season but all the time,” he said.
“We’ve got joint ventures with a group here in town that’s going to help us do hunting trips, fishing trips. We’re going to have cooking classes, wine tastings, literary events – all kinds of things like that that will bring people to Oxford and to the hotel.”
Other planned packages include “The Best Ole Miss Football Experience Possible” – a five-year package that includes hotel, Grove hospitality and skybox seating; a Rebel Yell Weekend “to celebrate the art of bourbon mixology”; and Steinway Music Lovers Weekend with performances at the Gertrude C. Ford Center, lectures, private lessons, mini-concerts at the Chancellor’s House and opportunities to mingle with artists and other music lovers.
Nanny service, pet care, 24-hour concierge and valet service, a “serious” spa and daily high tea service are among the amenities planned for the hotel.
Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation, said the Chancellor’s House is a welcome addition to the city’s offerings.
“Chancellor’s House is a chance for them stay in a luxury hotel and be just down the street from fabulous restaurants and other attractions of downtown Oxford,” he said. “The Chancellor’s House, where it is, when it is and what it is, is obviously a great fit for everything else is Oxford.”
Two other hotels in or near downtown – the Graduate and Courtyard by Marriott – are scheduled to open this summer.
“All of these are going to be great additions to our hotel market here in Oxford,” Maynard said. “More does definitely not hurt, because we’ve been a little bit behind the curve for a long time in hotel rooms.”