Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Omni Hotel: 108 rooms and a view

The Omni Hotel often gets lost in the Detroit hotel shuffle of bigger name digs like the Book-Cadillac, the RenCen Marriott and the casino hotels, which is a shame. From the outside, the Omni is a beaut, located right on the RiverWalk between Chene Park and the Belle Isle Bridge. I've never been inside, but I'm hoping to book a room sometime this summer.

Figuring the old building probably has a pretty cool history, I sent our crack research team looking for info, and found more than I bargained for. (Note: the Michigan Historical Sites website is really cool, if you're into that kind of stuff.) The building, it turns out, was constructed in 1902 as the Parke-Davis Research Laboratory, the leader in pharmacological research in the country. It was the first industrial laboratory devoted exclusively to pharmacological research, and was responsible for, among other things, many of the "wonder drugs" that we take for granted today.

And now it's a hotel, and a National Historic Landmark to boot!