The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday March 30th

New hotel awarded

Elegant decor in cyan and chocolate, walls accented with oval mirrors and a baby-grand piano adorn the lobby, bar and entrance to the Franklin Hotel. And last month this 18-month-old addition to Franklin Street won the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce's 2007 Business Newcomer of the Year Award. The award is given to a chamber-member business that is less than three years old and shows innovation, creativity and contribution to the community. After being selected as a finalist along with Town Planner Calendar and Kidzu Children's Museum, the chamber's board of directors voted the Franklin Hotel as the winner. "It brings vitality, it brings people, and it is a nice architectural landmark," said Aaron Nelson, president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. Hotel manager Michael Donaldson said 311 Franklin St. was not always an upscale site. The property was a horse stable at the turn of the 20th century and then a Trailways bus station that closed down in the mid-1990s. "We have brightened up this block, and it seems to be getting safer," Donaldson said. Robert Capps, a graduate of UNC's School of Dentistry, and his wife Jane own the hotel. Jane Capps said they want the hotel to connect with the University and the community. To stay in line with this request, the hotel has donated space and guest rooms to the Ackland Art Museum, Friends of Downtown and the Ronald McDonald House, among other nonprofits. Melissa Crane, director of sales and marketing for the Franklin Hotel, said the one thing that sets the hotel apart from competitors is location. "We have a more metropolitan downtown experience with walk-ability of downtown restaurants," she said. Crane said the hotel, inspired by the Ritz-Carlton in London and hotels in Manhattan and San Francisco and decorated with pictures from the owners' global travels, offers an eclectic experience for visitors and guests alike. But the 67-room hotel is known for its beds, which are adorned with nine pillows, and its menu of five more pillow options. Although the hotel is one of three luxury hotels in the area, it serves an estimated 30,000 guests per year. The Siena Hotel, also a luxury hotel on Franklin Street, was awarded the chamber's Large Business of the Year award. It was opened in October 1987. The Carolina Inn, which opened in 1924, is a third Chapel Hill luxury hotel. Mark Nelson, sales and marketing director for the Carolina Inn, said the addition of the Franklin Hotel has not affected its business. "They are two totally different properties, and each offers something completely different," Nelson said. "I think any addition of a new business is positive for the community. The more variety the visitors have the better. It adds to our overall attractiveness." Contact the Features Editor at Other awards given by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce: Small Business of the Year Award: A Better Image Printing Midsize Business of the Year Award: S.H. Basnight and Sons Inc. Large Business of the Year Award: The Siena Hotel


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