Department Article
Hotel Indigo comes to downtown Fort Myers

by Chelle Koster Walton

It was long-awaited and sometimes scoffed at, by naysayers wondering who’d chance a new hotel in struggling downtown Fort Myers in this economy. But Hotel Indigo Fort Myers River District finally opened its doors at precisely 2:58 p.m. on March 6, 2009.

“We’re the only hotel in the core River District,” owner Phil Hugh says in answer to the skeptics. “With government buildings all around us, we have automatic demand locators. We’re not catering to the seasonal traveler, but to year-round trade.”

The twenty-fifth in a line of boutique Hotel Indigo products by InterContinental Hotels Group (known mostly for its Holiday Inns), downtown Fort Myers’s version follows the same artsy template as the rest, but with localized interpretations—namely, a palm theme for this “City of Palms.”

The sixth Hotel Indigo in the state, the Fort Myers branch proves the corporation has faith in the Florida market. Internationally, the brand has expanded to London and plans to open in Costa Rica this year and Shanghai next. “Despite the economic downturn, we are successfully driving global growth of the brand and delivering a refreshing boutique experience to business and leisure travelers alike,” says Janis Cannon, the corporate vice president of global brand management for the Hotel Indigo division.

The sixty-seven rooms and suites at the seven-story Fort Myers Hotel Indigo fall into fifteen different category configurations and offer views that range from the Caloosahatchee River to the broadside of the courthouse. Decor details such as enlarged and framed historic Fort Myers postcards, dark wood furnishings, hardwood floors, Keurig coffeemakers, and LG flat-screen TVs give this franchise its distinct non-chain feel.

Brand-wide, the hotels change their lobby and restaurant-bar murals as well as restaurant dishes and room signs to reflect the four seasons. Other Hotel Indigo trademarks include an artistic aura built around the philosophy of phi—or divine proportion—and Leonardo da Vinci’s fascination with it. So at the new Fort Myers location, the full-service lobby restaurant is named Phi; the rooftop bar adjacent to the pool deck is called Phi in the Sky. And the workout room? It goes by the Phitness Studio, of course. (In addition to Phi restaurant, Fort Myers’s Hotel Indigo owner Hugh opened an Italian eatery, Vino de Notte, around the corner in the historic Collins Arcade.)

“We have no hotel downtown,” said Fort Myers Mayor Jim Humphrey as he toured the property the day before it opened. “That’s been the biggest detriment to downtown. To have a boutique hotel of this quality—it’s more than pleasing. It’s thrilling! It’s a place we can be proud of.”

Chelle Koster Walton is the cuisine and travel editor for Times of the Islands, RSW Living, and Bonita Living.