Sneak Peek: Omni Louisville unveils hotel room prototypes

The Omni Louisville is trying to work as many Kentucky touches into its hotel common areas and rooms as possible.

Design aspects will relate back to the Ohio River bridges, the river itself, Whiskey Row’s iron façades, bourbon and, of course, horse racing. The lobby, for example, will have neon lights — Louisville is one of the biggest exporters of neon lights — that will hang over the front desks and include words from a poem about the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Although the Omni Louisville won’t open for another 18 months, members of the media were offered a chance to see a prototype of what the rooms will look like once the hotel is complete.

The rooms themselves also feature subtle nods Louisville’s history from the distinct drawer handles and bar cabinet to the carpet and arched bathroom mirror. Beyond the design, the rooms offer the standard — a bed, desk, side table, storage space and self-serve coffee.

Both bathroom layouts feature rain showers with shower heads that move six-inches in each direction. Showers in the king bed suites also have a handheld shower head and a button that when pressed will remember the guest’s desired water temperature, while the bathrooms in the two-bed suites feature an 18-inch tub.

The company didn’t have to bring in outside help to create its look. Laura McKoy, Omni’s creative director and vice president of interior design, grew up in Paducah, Ky. and has worked for the company for almost a decade.

“She’s really excited,” said Eamon O’Brien, director of sales and marketing for Omni Louisville. “It’s not the kind of bang it over your head of ‘Oh, there’s a giant horse in the lobby.’ (The design) is going to be a little bit more subtle than that.”

Another key design component will be local art. The Omni Hotel and Residences hopes at least 75 percent of the hotel’s art will come from local and regional artists. The design firm will be at St. James Court Art Show looking for works and return to town for the Louisville Visual Arts Association’s Open Studio Weekend in November.

“Hopefully, there are two buckets of customers. One is the local person who walks in; the hope is they walk in and say, ‘Wow.’ They get it,” O’Brien said. “And people who aren’t from here can say, ‘Wow, Louisville has a lot more going on than I thought.’ …I think we have just as much to offer from the local arts and the food and beverage scenes” as any gateway city.

Before jumping on board with Omni, O’Brien was the director of sales and marketing at the Louisville Marriott Downtown, which opened roughly 11 years ago, not long after Fourth Street Live opened.

“In 2005, that really changed the game for Louisville, which was great,” O’Brien said. “To be pre-opening hotels is something unique in the hotel business. Being employee No. 1 was something that was very attractive, and I was blown away by the Omni Nashville and how much detail went into that hotel, and I think in Louisville we have the opportunity to be the next Nashville, get that national buzz.”