Potawatomi Hotel opening Aug. 18
Features city’s ‘largest and most expensive hotel suite’

By Tom Jozwik - Special to The Freeman

August 5, 2014

The Locavore restaurant in the lobby of the Potawatomi Hotel has room for more than 160 diners. The restaurant will feature a changing menu focusing on locally-sourced, seasonal offerings.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

MILWAUKEE - When the Potawatomi Hotel, two years under construction at 1611 W. Canal St. in Milwaukee, opens to the public Aug. 18, guests will be able to rent what’s being billed as “the city’s largest and most expensive hotel suite.”

For a single night in the approximately 3,000-square-foot presidential suite, a hotel patron will have to spend $4,000 - about the amount this writer did as a down payment for his first home. Of course, that was decades ago and the house, unlike the suite, didn’t have custom-made furniture, marble flooring, a 60-inch TV above a bedroom fireplace, a Jacuzzi, indoor and outdoor bar areas, an 800-square-foot patio and limousine service for the duration of our stay.

The lobby of the Potawatomi
Hotel and casino.

Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Nor was that first home situated at the highest point of Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley, affording views of the surrounding city. One couldn’t help but observe that, from one of the suite’s floor-to-ceiling windows, a Potawatomi Hotel competitor - the venerable Hilton on 5th and Wisconsin - looked quite tiny in the distance.

The Potawatomi’s top floor, on which the presidential and less ostentatious suites are located, is numbered “19.” But the hotel, as has become rather standard practice in the industry, has no “13th” story.


Nearly 400 rooms, plus coffee bar, restaurant

The smoke-free, sustainable facility does have nearly 400 rooms (measuring 350 square feet on average); well over 10,000 square feet in meeting space (the place is booked into 2016 for weddings); and, on the first floor, a Stone Creek Coffee bar, plus a restaurant called Locavore to supplement a half-dozen eateries in the adjoining Potawatomi Casino structure.

The Serenity Room in the Potawatomi Hotel has space for a wedding or other event of 200 diners. This room also has an open-air patio.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

On Monday, when the hotel was open to the media for tours, Locavore manager Yazmin Figueroa said the breakfast-lunch-dinner establishment with a capacity of 165 serves local products - Badger State baked goods, meat and cheese. Plans call for seasonal menu changes. 

Food representative of Locavore fare was available for sampling at stands in the hotel lobby Monday. One stand advertised “sweet tea brined pork tenderloin with savory cornbread pudding,” while another served smoked asparagus salad and a third offered mini chocolate pretzel croissants.

The living area of the Presidential Suite features custom-built furniture
and panoramic views of the city.

Freeman file photo

Chris Graham, digital media specialist for Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, told The Freeman that Potawatomi operates its own culinary academy. Employees have a cafeteria on premises and Graham, an employee for nearly eight years, said the food “really is good.”

And according to Potowatomi administrators, the hotel has created some 250 permanent jobs.

The soaking tub in the Presidential Suite master bath has views east from the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Walkways on the hotel’s first and third floors connect it with the Potawatomi Casino (the earliest section of which dates back 23 years) - which includes a bingo hall with seating for 1,350, the Northern Lights Theater with seating for 500, the aforementioned six restaurants, some 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games.

An unusual feature of the new facility is its lighting. According to a release, “The Color Kinetic (lighting) System can produce about 16.1 million different colors” and also “simulate sun breaking through trees, thunderstorms, raging fires and more.”

Sweet tea-brined pork tenderloin with savory cornbread pudding was one of the dishes highlighted during the open house for the new Potawatomi Hotel.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

The hotel’s architectural firm was Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc., of Minneapolis. Cost of the project was $150 million, Potawatomi external communications manager Ryan Amundson told The Freeman.

While the hotel will begin welcoming guests in about two weeks, a grand opening has been scheduled for Oct. 1.