Walking in the front door of the Kindler Hotel, the lobby doesn’t exactly scream Midwest or college football town or whatever it is you thought Lincoln, Neb., might be. That’s good. That wasn’t the intention.
“Brooke and Nick [Castaneda, the owners of the Kindler Hotel,] wanted to create something super modern that was like out of this world, that was like bringing L.A. into the city of Lincoln,” said Ross Vincent, designer of the Kindler Hotel.
Vincent, owner of Los Angeles-based Ross Vincent Design, is a family friend of Nick Castaneda, himself based in Arizona. “When we first talked about it, he was like ‘I have this dream to buy this place in Lincoln, and if I do it, I want you to design it,’” recalled Vincent. “A few years later, he just randomly calls me. He’s like ‘I bought the building; I want you to design it.’ And so that was kind of it.”
Another few years and nearly $20 million later, the Kindler Hotel—named after Brooke Castaneda’s father and Nebraska industrial artist Ken Kindler—opened in August.
The resulting hotel is certainly more unique, modern and “L.A.” than your typical name brand hotel in Lincoln. Black walls and ceilings are likely the most immediate thing style choice that jumps out. But, walking around the hotel’s lobby, different touches stick out and draw the eyes.
Behind the front desk is a video screen that plays a constant stream of cascading water—cheaper and less likely to smell than an actual water feature, explained Vincent. In a corner next to the bar, there’s an enlarged poster of a $10 Buffalo Bill note—Vincent’s plan to mount a taxidermized albino buffalo head was vetoed.
Though the Kindler Hotel’s design sets it apart from much of the local hotel inventory, it still takes connecting and engaging with the local community very seriously.
“The value prop of a boutique property is that we’re coming into a community and we reflect and enhance that community,” said Lindsey Schott, corporate director of marketing and sales with the hotel’s operating company, IDM Hospitality Management.
Schott specifically identified the hotel’s restaurant and bar Boitano’s Lounge as a key component to the hotel’s engagement with the local community. “We really want to be a place where downstairs, people are coming in—locals—to Boitano’s Lounge; and then, when people come in as visitors and guests of the hotel, they’re getting a real flavor of Lincoln.”
To provide that local flavor, the Kindler also partnered with an assortment of local businesses for its guestroom offerings. From Arbor Day Coffee and Glacial Till Cider to Lulubee Artisanal Chocolates and Colby Ridge popcorn, many of the hotel’s in-room food-and-beverage options come from Nebraska vendors. “I think the goal is to just continue to partner with as many local businesses as possible,” said Mary Beth Smith, the Kindler’s general manager.
Centrally located in Lincoln, Neb., the Kindler Hotel is within walking distance of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and more importantly its Memorial Stadium. Home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the stadium has sold out an NCAA-record 375 consecutive games. Situated near the growing Haymarket district, the hotel also provides easy access to a number of locally owned businesses.
Late August 2019
NUMBER OF ROOMS
Mary Beth Smith
Nick and Brooke Castaneda
IDM Hospitality Management
Schott, speaking from the management perspective, said the biggest difficulty was the distance. “We’re in Madison [Wis.], so we’re about a seven-and-a-half-hour drive away,” said Schott. “When you're starting something like this, you really need people here on the ground. So, there were times when I think our director of food and beverage, he was here for the entire month of August basically just because you need to have that strong presence when you start.”