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Historic flip: Museum debuts hotel room design contest

Some talented local residents and businesses will have the chance to redesign history as the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum hosts The Great Hotel Flip room design contest over the next five months at the Boulder Dam Hotel.

The hotel has been welcoming guests since 1933, three years earlier than the engineering marvel for which it was named was completed, and has been a fixture of the city that built Hoover Dam ever since.

With the wear and tear that comes from years of daily use by guests, every so often the hotel needs to replace worn items and revamp its décor.

This year, the Boulder Dam Hotel is trying something a little different as it offers interested community members the chance to participate in the town’s living history.

The two-story hotel features 21 guest rooms, six of which feature king-size beds, and each of those will be turned over to selected participants to redesign as they see fit. Contest participants will sponsor the renovation of their rooms, while the museum will match their donations up to $3,000. Contestants will be responsible for giving their room a face-lift from the ground up, according to Museum Development Officer Leslie Woodbury.

“Each designer will be asked to create a unique room that is all their own, including new paint or wallpaper, carpet or flooring, art work and even fixtures,” Woodbury said. “Everything does have to be approved before the work is started and everything must be of hotel quality. The room needs to last for seven years.”

Once plans have been approved, and the hotel has received the furniture and materials to be used, the rooms will be closed for three days to allow for the renovation work. In addition to matching donations, the hotel will provide standard beds, linens, blinds and a phone.

“The museum needs to update some rooms and make some improvements to stay competitive; the hotel is a nonprofit, as it is an extension of the museum, but it’s still a business,” Woodbury said. “We can’t make the rooms larger, but we can make them better.”

According to Woodbury, the contest was born from the museum’s continued interest in involving the community in an active part of its history.

“What’s great about this building is that it’s still a functioning hotel, as it has always been, so it’s a living museum,” she said. “We wanted an event that would engage the community in preserving and revitalizing the town’s largest artifact.”

The hotel recently renovated eight rooms at its own expense, and the cost ran between $3,500 and $4,000 per unit, according to Roger Shoaff, general manager of the museum and the hotel. By matching the sponsors’ donations the hotel will not necessarily be saving huge sums of money, but he hopes that the end product will be rooms that are even nicer than usual, each with its own style.

“Because we’re a nonprofit we have an obligation to our donors and members to be financially prudent, so we don’t always have the funds to engage in extensive renovations,” Shoaff said. “But this is a way to work with the community while really making significant improvements.”

The museum tries to engage the community through unique campaigns every fall. Last year there was a dinner on the patio with many of its donors and, according to Shoaff, the design contest conceived by Woodbury was a stroke of genius that fit perfectly with its mission.

“Our role with the museum is not just preserving history but also engaging Boulder City in its history, and we try to make sure that the residents have a chance to participate in every program we implement,” Shoaff said. “We’ve been thrilled with the response from the community.”

The name for the contest was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” which Shoaff said embodies the era that birthed the dam, the hotel and the city that built them.

The contest winner will receive recognition in a newspaper announcement, and his or her room will be closed and put on display for the American Association of University Women’s annual Home Tour in December 2017.

Sponsors will be recognized with their name posted at the door of their room for the life of their design and will receive 12 free nights at the hotel for themselves or a guest.

The contest officially begins Saturday, and the winner will be announced March 31, 2017.

For more information, call 702-294-1988.

Contact reporter Hunter Terry at hterry@bouldercityreview.com or call 702-586-6711. Follow him on Twitter @HunterBCReview

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