You could stay at The Scarlet, Lincoln’s newest hotel, more than 150 times and have a different experience every night.
On your first visit, you might stay in a room with photos telling the story of the Dawes County town of Crawford and the surrounding beauty of the Panhandle.
The next night you could learn about the founding and history of Eagle in a room that celebrates the Cass County village.
Or, if you want to go big for the night, you could stay in a suite named for former Husker football coach Tom Osborne, or Omaha businessmen Michael Yanney and Walter Scott Jr.
The history, culture and DNA of the Cornhusker state are woven throughout The Scarlet, which is scheduled to open this spring across from the conference center on Nebraska Innovation Campus.
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The six-story, 154-room hotel, which will serve the research campus and beyond, aims to draw “the modern maverick, someone who wants an experience,” said Trish Bauermeister, director of sales and marketing.
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“They don’t want that standard brand feel, they want to really experience the location they are in and have a nice social vibe as they travel,” she added.
Part of Marriott’s Tribute portfolio, The Scarlet is allowed to be more creative in the food and drinks it features, as well as in the linens, soaps and other amenities it will offer, Bauermeister said, allowing the hotel to source its food and drinks locally.
“We want to focus on what Nebraska has to offer and bring that to visitors,” she said.
To the right of the front desk is the Good Life Coffee Shop, which will offer a special blend of coffee roasted by The Mill — Scarlet Blend, naturally — as well as an ice cream stand featuring products from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dairy Store.
On the other end of the first floor is Well & Good, a restaurant and bar with seating for 100 and an outdoor patio that wraps around the building that will serve American fare sourced from local businesses.
Bauermeister said guests can try the hotel’s take on a Runza or a Reuben, as well as local beers and custom cocktails.
On the second floor, there’s a fitness room complete with treadmills, exercise bikes and other equipment, a yoga studio and men’s and women’s locker rooms that will serve guests as well as employees at Innovation Campus.
On the sixth floor is the Barred Owl, a “full-service, high-end” lounge that will serve signature cocktails and small plates of food to hotel guests and the public.
The flexible space can be opened up onto an outdoor patio overlooking the research park in the warmer months, or closed off to the elements when the temperature drops.
Bauermeister said the Barred Owl will also offer catering both onsite in the Founder’s Room, a private dining area, as well as the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, and while it was designed as a cocktail lounge, it will likely become a sports bar on days the Huskers play.
Putting up a hotel at Innovation Campus will benefit the state’s flagship university in other ways.
A 2,400-square-foot space on the south end of the first floor is being planned as a combination of office suites, classrooms and a commercial training kitchen for UNL’s Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management program.
“We’ve been calling this a living laboratory,” said Ajai Ammachathram, director of the program. “This puts the hospitality program on the map, not just within the university, but also internationally.”
Currently, there are about 300 students enrolled in hospitality classes at UNL, learning either as majors or earning minors to go alongside their majors in programs such as business, marketing or public relations, golf course management and even family consumer studies.
Ammachathram said the goal is to have students go from state-of-the-art learning spaces to working alongside professionals at The Scarlet, either on a project, in an internship, or eventually landing a full-time job.
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“What this will do for us is allow us to have a structure program that is basically a manager-in-training, allowing students to rotate within various departments of the hotel, so by the time they graduate they will have a well-rounded experience,” he said.
It will be some time before the UNL program is ready to move into The Scarlet, however. While the space is enclosed, it is a long way from being ready to house students and faculty.
UNL is working to raise as much as $5 million to complete the build-out of its new home for hospitality.
Bauermeister said in addition to serving guests and UNL, the arrival of The Scarlet gives Innovation Campus a new dynamic.
The hotel, which will start taking reservations beginning in April, will draw more people to the campus, provide new amenities for conference planners and attendees, as well as for existing and future employees.
“We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out what we want this to feel like,” Bauermeister said, “and we just really want to bring Nebraska to every guest.”