Viking Range Corp. Builds Alluvian Boutique Hotel

November 30, -0001

GREENWOOD, Miss. - While the Alluvian is not the biggest hotel ever built, no expense was spared in the selection of furnishings and fabrics for the four-star, luxury boutique hotel in Mississippi. It is the crown jewel for the design and purchasing firm, Saia Trim Group, and the hotel's owner, Fred Carl Jr., founder and president of Viking Range Corp.

In May, the showy, 45-room, five-suite hotel opened in Greenwood, a town of about 18,000, located about 130 miles from Memphis, Tenn.

The Alluvian came about after a two-year renovation of the former Hotel Irving. The work preserved the original faade of the building, which opened in 1917, except that the front entrance has been moved from the corner of Church and Howard Streets to Howard Street. Viking Range Corporation also bought the rest of the property on the block and incorporated the old Post Office Caf', a jewelry shop and a department store into part of the Alluvian.

Commissioned by the Viking Range Corporation, a monolith in the residential stove sector, the project gives the Saia Trim Group a bright feather to stick in its hat just eight months after going into business.

Carl Jr. had the hotel built mainly to accommodate Viking's own business. 'Mr. Carl was putting up sales reps and customers at the Peabody in Memphis,' said Saia Trim Group president John Saia. 'Rather than pay the Peabody several hundred thousand dollars a year he decided to build a hotel.'

The hotel is also open to regular guests who are not affiliated with Viking.

No expense was spared, according to Saia, whose firm worked as purchaser and installer on the project.

'I'm not at liberty to say how much it was because the owner is real sensitive about that. The owner wanted it first class and he got it first class,' he said. 'It was a generous budget to begin with and with the changes that I feel were necessary that the owner made, it probably tripled the budget. The hotel represents his product, the quality level he makes in his industry. It's just top of the line.

'The only reason it's not a five-star hotel is it doesn't have a swimming pool,' Saia explained.

Industry sources said the average cost per room for a Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn is $100,000. Viking Range reportedly spent about $200,000 a room in the Alluvian, or about $10 million excluding the cost of the land. The hotel's small number of rooms prohibited some opportunities for economies of scale, according to Forrest Perkins principal Deborah Lloyd Forrest, who made FF&E selections for the Alluvian and acted as lead designer. However attention to detail in the design and high quality specs also jacked up the budget.

'In terms of quality, nothing was too good for this project,' said one supplier involved with the Alluvian.

Meanwhile, the fledgling Saia Trim Group has other projects on the burner. The Cordova, Tennesee-based firm has been retained to custom design and purchase goods to refurbish a 14-story Residence Inn in downtown Memphis. Saia said the design goal is to return the interior of the historic art deco building to its original look.

Saia Trim Group has also been contracted to design, purchase and install goods in the renovation of a Holiday Inn resort property in Biloxi, Miss.

John Saia and his partner Tony Trim, trained as interior designers, bring a combined 33 years of experience to each job. Trim's design for a Hampton Inn on Bealle Street won Best Hampton Inn of the Year in 2001. Saia's work on a Hilton in Jackson, Miss., won Hilton Corporation's Renovation of the Year award. Holiday Inn has given Saia awards for a Holiday Inn Select in Memphis and a Holiday Inn Express. He also won Renovation of Year honors for his work on a Radisson in Orlando, Fla.

The pair is also trying to establish a reputation for honesty. 'When we do purchasing, we show the clients the raw cost on everything,' Saia said. 'We charge a design fee and a purchasing fee, and we don't mark up the freight. Everything we do is squeaky clean.'

Before going into business together, Trim and Saia worked at the interior design firm Carver and Associates. Saia decided to go into business for himself last fall but wanted a partner. 'I heard [Trim] was looking for something else to do,' Saia said.

''So I made him an offer he couldn't refuse. That was October 1, after 9/11.''

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