The Airport Rooms offers a little bit of buzzin' in North Adams
NORTH ADAMS — On a soggy Sunday night, dozens took refuge in a Michael Nau stripped-down set at Tourists' lodge, a fire crackling between chords inside the rustic resort space. Across the parking lot, a much smaller gathering sampled craft cocktails from The Airport Rooms, a bar and soon-to-be restaurant that began serving drinks last week.
While Tourists received national and international attention in the run-up to its summer 2018 opening, locals can be forgiven for glazing over the particulars of the pillows in guests' rooms. But those within driving distance would be wrong to rule out the hotel as a nightlife destination. The "Sing for Your Slumber" series is now regularly bringing acclaimed musicians to the lodge for concerts, and The Airport Rooms will be hosting acts as well, such as the Cordovas on Tuesday night, aiming to attract locals.
"They're both worthy of consideration for a nightlife experience in North Adams," said Ben Svenson, Tourists' lead partner.
The lodge and The Airport Rooms exude warmth in different ways. The lodge is an open area that has tables, bookshelves and wood everywhere, combining a hotel lobby's expansiveness and a living room's intimacy. It is open every night for a dinner that is pricier than what The Airport Rooms will eventually offer, according to Svenson, but the lodge doesn't feel like a fine-dining restaurant; orders are placed at a counter where patrons can also nab beer cider, wine, cocktails and coffee.
On Sunday, spectators visited the bar before settling into a variety of seating options facing Nau, who will be supporting St. Paul and The Broken Bones on the group's next tour. Wilco bassist and hotel partner John Stirratt was instrumental in booking Nau, according to Svenson, but others have also pitched in to bring musicians to the North Adams roadside retreat. The hotel's model for luring popular acts is similar to that of The Barn at The Egremont Village Inn; musicians get lodging around their show, something many venues can't offer, and spectators get an intimate performance.
"The 'Sing for Your Slumber' series is really about creating something where touring musicians can come and stay and have an unusually, we hope, luxurious experience for a touring musician at a certain level," said Eric Kerns, another Tourists investor and a Bright Ideas Brewing co-founder.
The Airport Rooms can also foster a house-concert vibe, albeit in an entirely different space. The establishment draws from the building's history as an 1813 farmhouse that later became a nine-room tourist home.
"We did our best to not break the spell that we found," Svenson said.
Suitcases greet those coming through the front entrance. Patrons can then navigate through a variety of rooms with different lighting and seating arrangements. The bar's $10 cocktail offerings on Sunday included a number of Scotch-based options.
"I think it's going to tend to be a little bit buzzin', a little more likely to be boisterous," Svenson said when comparing it to the lodge.
The seasons will also affect The Airport Rooms' use.
"It's intended to be a business that is different in the winter than it is in the summer," Svenson said. "In the winter, it's cozy. There's a fireplace, smaller spaces and rooms, real intimacy. And then in the [summer], with the deck being off the back and the landscape and the way we created this sunken area next to the river, I anticipate that, hopefully, there will be many more bodies there. In so many ways, probably the better half of the business will be outdoors."
The hotel hosted some music shows outside last summer and plans to do the same this year, according to Kerns. He believes that both spaces can help locals and guests relax.
"That's ultimately the goal of the hotel and, hopefully, of any hospitality business," Kerns said, "to make people easily turn on their best leisure selves."
Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at email@example.com, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.
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