Elwood Hotel: Placemaking Away From Home
Hotels don’t have to be generic or boring. They don’t have to be just someplace you occasionally stay. Hotels can be placemakers. A hotel can guide and inspire guests to explore, to venture out to landmarks or hidden local treasures. They can promote local organizations and help visitors contribute to a greater good in a town that’s not theirs. Whether it’s for one night or several, a guest can feel both inspired and at ease.
Elwood is a boutique hotel that is not only a landing place but a community. Once a dingy, forgettable hotel, two experienced visionaries worked with a team to transform the building into a 62-room establishment featuring extended-stay suites and cozier lodgings. They collaborated with artists and other creatives to curate a colorful, upbeat, and welcoming environment complete with murals, live plants, and unique room setups. A comfortable yet contemporary boutique space, Elwood invites guests to experience home away from home.
The founders approached us to bring their ideas to life. They knew the hospitality industry well and wanted to do something different. But first, the hotel needed a name. When naming a highly visited place, it is important to know how it sounds when spoken aloud (think, answering phones 100 times a day). They also wanted to highlight the region without sounding clichéd. We came across the story of Elwood the racehorse. In 1905, the horse became the first woman-owned thoroughbred to win the Kentucky Derby. The story is one of inspiration and drive and alludes to the female cofounder. We also named the hotel restaurant, Fiddletree, another name for the state’s tulip poplar tree.
We also developed a visual and verbal identity that captures the Bluegrass region but with a twist. We looked to the landscape, the culture, and the people for inspiration. Unexpected and whimsical moments show up in language for wayfinding, the website, and collateral. The brand’s warm tones guide and inspire guests along their journey, connecting them to the community. Elwood is a place visitors can discover their Kentucky story.
Scope of work