Warren Stephens Unveils Renovated Capital Hotel

Warren Stephens welcomed a group of journalists Monday morning to the opening day of the renovated Capital Hotel, a renovation that cost about $24 million and took two years.

"This hotel will move Little Rock to the absolute top in terms of a luxury hotel," Stephens said." We have a hotel that is equal to or better than any I've ever been in."

Click here to listen to Stephens talk about the renovations.

"One of the things we want to do is establish the highest level of service that we can," said Stephens, who owns the hotel with his wife, Harriet. "We had a very good level of service in the old hotel ... but we certainly are striving for a higher level of service with the facilities that we have that can support that level of service." One example: The renovated Capital, a state landmark, has five state-of-the art kitchens compared to its previous one.

Asked whether he had a timetable for the hotel turning a profit, Stephens said, "We're going to start turning a profit tonight." Acknowledging that the Capital, as a hotel, is a business, Stephens said: "The hotel financially did very well before the renovation. We think it will do much better going forward. We absolutely expect to be very profitable."

"Just stopping the cash flow from going out and having it come in is a big improvement, but getting a return on the investment we made, we feel really very good about that," he said. "And a lot of that is because we have the meeting rooms and ballroom and facilities that we just never had before."

Stephens said Chief Operating Officer Michael Chaffin said the hotel was getting 10 inquiries a week about weddings, rehearsal dinners and other events.

Stephens also cited the hotel's restaurant, Ashley's, and executive chef Lee Richardson. "The food is going to be a little bit different. He's going to celebrate a little bit more of Arkansas and Southern cooking than I think we've done in the past."

As for the remodeling itself, Stephens said, "There really isn't much that isn't new in the structure and bones of the hotel, which it needed frankly," including plumbing, heating and air and electrical. "If we were going to do this work, we had to do it right and we did."

Stephens said he and his wife were "very involved" in the refurbishment of the 135-year-old hotel - "all the color schemes. That's really a little bit out of my league in terms of the rooms and the carpets and the draperies and all that. Harriet was very involved in picking all that. The design firm, David Kleinberg, we've worked with before. All those things Harriet approved. ... I was more of a kind of observer of the construction."

The hotel now has 94 rooms, including several suites, compared with the previous 120, allowing larger rooms and bathrooms and greater closet space.