About five years ago, lifelong Birmingham, MI, resident Mark Mitchell had the idea to put up an ultra-luxury hotel in his hometown. Early this year, Daxton Hotel opened and brought that idea to fruition.
But the Daxton is more than just an investment for Mitchell—it is a legacy. “Being a Birmingham native, the goal was to bring something that would be multi-generational for my family, but also for the town,” he said. “We wanted to make it something special that no place in Michigan has ever seen, something that is edgy [and]a little more contemporary. So, if you were an international traveler and for some reason had business in metro Detroit, if you went to the Daxton Hotel, it would always stand out in your memory.”
One of the things that makes the 151-room new-build hotel—which is located about 20 miles from Detroit—stand out is its extensive art collection, curated by Saatchi Art. The more than 400-piece collection was something that was supposed to be significantly smaller. “When the hotel was laid out, the design team came in and said, ‘Here’s four really great looking pieces—let’s go and run 35-40 of each one,’” said Mitchell. “I thought with all of the cool things we have in the hotel, how cool would it be… if the same [business]traveler that comes four times a month, every time he checks in, he is in a different room, and every time he has a different piece of artwork. We are putting a coffee table book together so he can read about the art in the book.”
When Mitchell was looking for a company to manage the property, he chose Aparium Hotel Group. “The opportunity to do a luxury hotel in greater Detroit, in the state of Michigan, that was going to compete on a national and global stage, that opportunity always existed in Birmingham,” said Michael Kitchen, partner, Aparium Hotel Group. “Mark approached us with the possibility of creating this wonderful and iconic new grand dame in Birmingham. It was a no-brainer for us.”
To complement the extensive art collection, the property also features food and beverage offerings from chef Garrison Price, including its flagship restaurant Madam. “The locals don’t need hotel rooms, the locals want great food and beverage, so that is the way to be relevant,” said Kitchen. “What we aim to do is create the best restaurants in the market. That puts our sights on James Beard-type of awards. On any given night as a result of that, three out of four guests at Madam will be locals, not visitors to the hotel. Right now, it is nine out of 10.”
Guests in the hotel also enjoy F&B closer to their rooms, as each guest floor has a pantry stocked with locally curated beers and snacks. “What I am most proud of is some of the small touches on the amenity programs,” he said. “We encourage our guests to keep coming back and kind of pulling the layers and continue to find those touchpoints that are Daxton exclusives.”
The property also has what Kitchen calls, “some of the best meeting space in the state, if not the best in the country. We have two unique parlors that serve as bespoke retail, concierge-type lounges, venues for pop-ups that open them immediately to mind-blowing pre-function space and then into a spectacular ballroom. We have really rethought the approach on meeting space and created a unique compartmentalized open-to-each other flexible meeting spaces into the ballroom, unlike any other property in the market or beyond.”
Kitchen said that the hotel and its amenities are for a traveler in a specific psychographic, not a demographic. “They that likes to be around things that are culturally significant, experience great food and beverage, be around like-minded individuals, push the envelope in terms of what they know and what they want to know,” he said. “Daxton does all of those things. It attracts a psychographic and Birmingham has a lot of that. It is a perfect marriage if that.”
In the early going, Mitchell has also received feedback that makes it look like his desire to create a legacy has worked. “Probably the biggest surprise since opening is all of the unsolicited emails from strangers who are talking about how proud they are about having that in the community and that they could have never imagined having anything like that in a secondary city and just that feeling of local pride in doing something great,” he said.