The transformation of a classic brown brick bank to a polished white boutique hotel in downtown Biloxi is nearly complete and The Bella Biloxi is ready for its reveal and grand opening — just in time for Cruisin’ The Coast.
Reservations go live at noon on Monday, Sept. 18 on the hotel’s website, opening 13 suites for those coming to Cruisin’ The Coast antique and classic car show the first week in October and for upcoming holiday festivals.
“If you had to pick a location in downtown Biloxi, this is it,” says Ivan Spinner, who calls it the intersection of “Main and Main.”
Just a few blocks away is the beach, along with Beau Rivage and Hard Rock casinos. The Biloxi Shuckers’ baseball stadium and Ground Zero Blues Club are even closer. Biloxi Town Green and restaurants are in walking distance and the Nativity Cathedral, where many weddings are held, is directly across the street.
The Bella also will be a short walk from the Amtrak station once passenger train service between New Orleans and Mobile begins.
Spinner bought the building the day it went on the market for the full asking price of $1.5 million, he said,
“I bought it not knowing what I was going to do with it,” he said.
He and his wife, Kelly, spent another $1 million on the restoration and design of the property that is both hotel and a longer term vacation for those who want to stay awhile in downtown Biloxi, where the Saenger Theatre the Barq building are being restored and the business section is making a comeback.
“This will be the new hot spot of the Coast,” Ivan said.
Each hotel room is different
Renovations began about 18 months ago and Garlon Pemberton with HP Development was challenged to create a second floor where previously a balcony overlooked the interior of the bank.
Like the other properties Pemberton built or restored for the Spinners on Pass and Cowan roads in Gulfport, the hotel is white.
“We like white. We’re all about clean and modern looks,” Ivan Spinner said.
White, black and gray are the base, said Kelly, who designed the hotel. Pops of color carry the combination New York City vibe and South Beach flair with art and accessories.
Each room has a small refrigerator and microwave but beyond that, each is different. Guests will be able to stay in the 90210 suite with its Rodeo Drive feel, or choose rooms that pay tribute to Marilyn Monroe, Prince, rappers or the blues. Theme music will welcome guests when they check into their room.
Four of the 13 suites have a sitting area with a pull-out couch for extra sleeping space. Some of the suites have two separate bedrooms or two bedrooms in the same room.
Every room on the second floor has a balcony looking out on Biloxi. Although there is no elevator, the rooms on the first floor are accessible and have a private courtyard and other luxury touches.
A bakery & coffee shop will open
Those who stay at The Bella will awaken to the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and cinnamon rolls baking at The BrewPaddle Cafe that has an entry directly from the lobby and an exterior door for other customers to use.
Scott and Rachel Plauche moved back to South Mississippi to be closer to family in 2020, after he got a degree in culinary arts, baking and pastry in Charleston, South Carolina.
Their idea was to open a cafe with a coffee house feel and refined food to make breakfast and lunch something special.
Scott will be baking his artisan breads like sourdough, baguettes and focaccia by the loaf for local customers and restaurants.
“Coast Roast is our roaster,” Rachel said, and customers can grab a coffee and pastry to go or linger over their breakfast of lunch in the restaurant that will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Breakfast will be special with ingredients like grits sourced from Charleston and quality pork products from the farm in Mississippi.
The specialty at lunch will be tartines — open faced sandwiches such as avocado toast, made on their fresh baked bread with their own dill oil used in the avocado mousse.
Special touches are carried throughout The Bella and The BrewPaddle Cafe, where the original bank vault is part of the experience.
“Yes, I slept at The Bella” in neon greets guests in the hotel lobby for a “selfie” moment. Electric charging stations are free for guests in the parking area and electric karts are available to rent to ride around town in style.
A drive-up Wells Fargo ATM machine, still at the back of the building, is the number one machine in the state, Ivan says, since visitors have access to more cash than they can get at the casinos.
The hotel is named for their daughter, Bella, 14, a student at Biloxi High School. They are working on the concept for “The Austin” just down Howard Avenue and plan another Biloxi development for their third child, Logan.
In addition to these Biloxi projects, the Spinners own Coast Exotic Autos and supplied cars for John Travolta’s movie filmed at Scarlet Pearl Casino. They also created Flamingo landing in Gulfport, Bacchus on the Bay in Ocean Springs and are building Handsboro Point condos in Gulfport and other projects.