Ask Charles Bailey, owner of Milwaukee hospitality brand Kinn Guesthouse, what his dream hotel looks like, and he’d probably paint you a picture of a lavish, 500-room property, with white-gloved doormen, extravagant lobbies, and room service on silver-domed platters. This was precisely the type of property his father and grandfather used to manage when he was a child growing up in Chicago, when he dreamed of following in their footsteps and owning an illustrious hotel of his own. After moving his family to Milwaukee, however, that all changed.
“Part of me thought I’d never be able to own a hotel of my own without that version of luxury,” he reveals. “But one day, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment.” After analyzing the hospitality market, he realized that the concept of luxury had completely evolved. “The modern traveler is looking for more authentic experiences in their hotel stay. They don’t want turn-down service, concierge treatment, or grandiose lobbies as much as they want the efficiency of self-check-in, contactless service, spacious rooms with modern amenities, and the freedom to experience a property on their own terms.” It was an epiphanal moment that gave Bailey a vision for a new kind of hotel experience. In the summer of 2017, he unveiled it to the world.
Nestled in one of Milwaukee’s most vibrant neighborhoods, the Kinn Guesthouse Bay View is a measured alternative to the old-school opulence of years gone by. The hotel offers just eight rooms, with plush furnishings like Apple TVs and walk-in spa showers, as well as high ceilings and abundant living space. Elsewhere, guests can relax in the sophisticated lounge area or prepare their own meals in the fully furnished communal kitchen. And just outside is the famous Kinnickinnic Avenue, home to Bay View’s eclectic assortment of shops, restaurants, and lively local pubs.
Bailey’s vision has resonated with both locals and tourists alike, and a larger second property in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward is due to open early next year. The hotel will include 31 rooms and a rooftop terrace that will bring an enticing summer venue to the neighborhood.
“I set out to redefine what luxury lodging could be,” Bailey says. The results speak for themselves.