By Kimberly Jaso
The Hyatt Regency Louisville recently completed a $5.8 million renovation of their hotel, updating the event space, entryway, lobby, and fitness center, and putting in a new restaurant and bar, Sway.
They announced the renovation in October 2011 and completed the new space this past week, with a focus on enhancing the experience for business travelers, visitors, and convention attendees. The upgraded entryway, which opens the hotel up to the adjacent adjacent Fourth Street Live! dining, shopping, and entertainment complex, features a new front desk area with three "pods" for quick, and tech-savvy, check-ins. And guests can take advantage of a new and exclusive valet service out front.
Other updated amenities include a new fitness center-which doubled in size and features state of the art equipment- and the new restaurant, Sway. Short for "Southern Way," the restaurant offers "farm-to-fork," authentic regional dishes like fried green tomatoes, southern fried chicken, and shrimp and grits. For a sweet treat, try the Girl Scout sundae, given that Louisville is the home of those illustrious Girl Scout cookies.
But there's more to Louisville than this sparkling new property. To the uninitiated, it may come as a surprise that Louisville is filled with great art, great food, and a fun vibe. But indeed, from the history of Churchill Downs to the boozy Bourbon Trail, Louisville is a hub of fascinating activity. Here are some of our favorites...
Food lovers should check out the noir-inspired Garage Bar, on Market Street, for wood-fired pizzas and craft beers, as well as the rustic, seasonal menu at The Blind Pig, in the Butchertown neighborhood on Washington Street. Stop into the new La Coop: Bistro a Vins, also on Market Street, which is a country-style French bistro that mixes comfort foods with French classics, and solid wine pairings. Head back to Market Street to refuel with a morning cup of coffee and freshly baked pastry at Please and Thank You.
The Bardstown Road Farmers Market is worth a stroll, but if you're in town May 11-20, be sure to check out Fleur De Licious, Lousville's restaurant week. For a list of participating restaurants, check here.
If you're looking for some history while in Kentucky, don't skip a visit to the Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum honoring America's oldest sporting event, the Kentucky Derby (May 5th this year). Baseball fans should also plan a pit-stop at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, where you'll find signed versions of the legendary baseball bat from all your favorite Hall-of-Famers. And bourbon-enthusiasts will delight in the fact that Louisville is considered the gateway to Bourbon Country.
Art lovers should start their oggling at the 21C Museum Hotel, which rotates exhibitions of modern, 21st century art in its cool, also-a-hotel space. Galleries and museums are aplenty in Louisville, with The 930 Gallery and the SPEED Art Museum among the best bets.
Thinking of a trip to Louisville?
For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, plus the best planning advice, check out our Kentucky Bluegrass Country Travel Guide.
Photo credits: Ribbon cutting courtesy of Hyatt Regency Louisville; Lousiville night skyline via Shutterstock.