The Hotel Developer That's Delivering High-End Rooms Below Industry Standard Prices.
The luxurious, overhead Kohler shower spray is the first feature that Greg Hnedak shows a visitor to one of the mock hotel rooms in the Downtown headquarters of the company he founded, DreamCatcher Hotels.
“One hundred twenty nozzles of water with this overhead rain shower and another on the wall,” he said. “People love this feature.”
He points out the rimless, glass shower door usually found in five-star hotels.
Just like in architecture, his previous career, he’s painstakingly aware that it is the details that matter. During a recent interview in his Downtown office, Hnedak picks up a bottle of the European-made Temple Spa shampoo, touches the granite vanity top, and points out the taller-than-normal toilet seat.
Just outside the bathroom, he motions to the Keurig single-cup coffee brewer and the 50-inch Samsung TV.
He gestures to the soft LED up-lighting over the bed headboard. “You can shut all the lights off if you’re watching the ballgame while your spouse is sleeping and still have the ambience of lighting without having the glare in somebody’s eyes,” he said.
But Hnedak gushes most of all about the bed, the quality of which ranks second in importance only to room rates as the factors guests consider in choosing where to stay.
“We believe (it’s) the finest in the industry,” he said of the DreamCatcher Bed, custom-made by Simmons Beautyrest. “By the same company that made the Heavenly Bed for Starwood, that changed the whole industry,” Hnedak says.
And he’s the same architect who was key in creating for Memphis the Main Street Trolley system, an entire Downtown block known as Peabody Place and the Westin Hotel with its top floor famously scaled to accommodate the tall NBA players who play across the street at FedExForum.
Now Hnedak has a renewed career pursuit. His DreamCatcher Hotels does not develop the typical hotel, and not in the typical way.
In the proud Memphis tradition started by Holiday Inn’s Kemmons Wilson 60 years ago, Hnedak endeavors to pioneer new ways of doing things in the hospitality world.
The Great Recession was a seminal influence on the company he founded ten years ago while still a partner with Hnedak Bobo.
With the new normal of tighter lending, Hnedak drew upon his years of experience to design and build hotels at a three-star cost. Think Hampton Inn.
But whose rooms feel like a four- or five-star space. Think The Peabody.
DreamCatcher distinguishes itself a second way, by delivering a turnkey product for the hotel owner. When the project is done, DreamCatcher has placed inside everything from three months’ worth of coffee and shampoos to the Rubbermaid cleaning carts to the Down Lite pillows.
The developer is strategic both in the way it cuts costs and splurges on luxuries.
The goal is to deliver a hotel below industry averages.
“Greg’s done a lot of design for 200-, 400-, 600-, 800- room casino hotels,” says Chuck Pinkowski, whose Pinkowski & Co. is a consulting firm for the hospitality industry.
“So he’s had a lot of practice knowing what works and doesn’t. He’s always been focused on high quality. I’ve got to believe what DreamCatcher is offering is a high-quality product that’s been refined to the level of where the product delivered is at the four- or five-star level,” Pinkowski says. “But because of the efficiencies he’s been able to work into the design and construction, the cost will be less.”
Those efficiencies include:
Reducing space. DreamCatcher ensures that the architect designs the property efficiently, with no wasted space. Complete construction documents are then sent to prospective General Contractors to provide a Lump Sum Bid. "This way we can control cost, and not have the business as usual GMP project that gets away from the owner and has many unforeseen financial surprises."
DreamCatcher evolved from a long history of hotel construction by Hnedak Bobo Group. The architectural firm helped design Holiday Inn’s taller hotel prototypes, worked with Promus Companies to innovate its Homewood Suites extended-stay brand, and designed two resorts for Gaylord Entertainment Co.’s Opryland Hospitality Group in Florida and Texas that cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Hnedak Bobo gained a lot of other projects by daring to go where others feared to tread: Casino construction for Native American tribes that enjoy sovereign immunity. Now, these tribes are the bulk of DreamCatchers partners, because they are in need of a true partner, that will provide the expertise to successfully complete a project; on time and within budget.
The first DreamCatcher was completed for the Coushatta Casino Resort in southwest Louisiana (Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana). Since, DreamCatcher has worked with other tribes, to complete the Angel of the Winds Casino Hotel (Stillaguamish Tribe of Washington) and Cliff Castle Casino Hotel (Yavapai-Apache Nation).
Currently DreamCatcher has two projects under contract with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; the Four Diamond 725 room hotel and 100,000 square foot convention center project, The Cherokee at Harrah's Casino Resort and the 125 room boutique golf course hotel, The Cherokee at Sequoyah National. Both will be completed mid-2021.
Outside of Native American projects, DreamCatcher developed the Guest House at Graceland, a AAA Rated Four Diamond, 450 room hotel at Elvis Presley's Graceland home in Memphis.
This article was written by Thomas Bailey Jr. and originally appeared in the Commercial Appeal in 2013 and again on Skift.com. It has been edited to include updates on the company, by Zeke Cooper, November 2019.