After a Sprint to the Finish, the Moonrise Hotel on Delmar is Open and Full of Moonie Stuff

Apr 17, 2009 at 8:37 am
A view from the top of the Moonrise.
A view from the top of the Moonrise.
The Loop now has a hotel, and according to managers, a 50 percent occupancy rate for its opening day.

The Moonrise Hotel (6177 Delmar Boulevard) -- the latest project to sprout from beneath the blond mane of businessman Joe Edwards -- officially opens today. Fans of his quirky restaurant Blueberry Hill or his thematic bowling alleys, Pin-Up Bowl and Flamingo Bowl, should feel right at home in the $23.5 million Moonrise.

Joe Edwards Thursday after a press conference announcing the opening of the Moonrise.
Joe Edwards Thursday after a press conference announcing the opening of the Moonrise.
Decor at the 125-room boutique hotel, from the funky, incandescent staircase on the first floor to the rotating, 1.5-ton moon on its roof, jibes well with Edwards' other business ventures.

On Thursday afternoon Edwards emerged from the entrance of the hotel dressed in a spacesuit and accompanied by clouds of pumped-in smoke -- a scene similar to an event last year when he announced plans for the project. In the background played the theme song from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey

Edwards later broke a bottle of Champagne on the corner of the building, earning him a lesion on his forehead from an errant shard of glass.

It was the lone mishap of the day. Though there have been plenty other close calls in the race to complete the hotel.

The hotel management company, Desires Hotels, acquired the contract to oversee day-to-day operations just seven weeks ago. That left hotel general manager Joe Reyes drastically less time to hire staff. Reyes says it typically takes eight months to get a hotel ready to open. Just three weeks ago some 1,200 applicants showed up at Blueberry Hill for a job fair held to staff the hotel.

Another firm had been in talks with Edwards to manage the property, but the deal did not work out.

"I don't think there was bad blood. Joe just wanted a more personal touch," says Moonrise sales manager Jennifer Jones.

And Edwards' touches are all over the boutique hotel. There are pictures of Edwards posing with astronauts, paintings that evoke fairy tales near the elevators, and in the lobby, a series of works that show the phases of the moon. There are still empty display cases, waiting to be filled with trinkets and toys from Edwards' own collection.

"Some really nice toys, and an old steel rocket ship that I had as a kid, a bank where you put a penny in and shoot it up into the rocket ship," says Edwards. "And a lot of really rare items connected with the NASA program and the different Apollo missions will be on permanent display."

The hotel boasts ten suite,s each in the theme of a celebrity honored on the nearby Loop Walk of Fame. The suites feature hardwood floors, which could help the cleaning staff mop up after the rock bands stay the night following a show at the adjacent Pageant concert venue -- another Edwards property. Though it's not just out-of-towners who'll be lodging at the Moonrise. Edwards says reservations are coming in from people as close as two to three blocks away from the hotel.

The Moonrise also features Eclipse, a fine-dining restaurant and bar, and the Rooftop Terrace Bar, which is slated to open in mid- to late May.