The Drury Plaza Hotel Santa Fe will start accepting guests this summer, says general manager Tauseen Malik, making the venture the first large hotel to open in the downtown area in years. Drury Hotels LLC bought the 5-acre property at the intersection of Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta from an investment group in 2007. The St. Louis, Missouri-based company has been working to renovate the old buildings including the former St. Vincent Hospital into a full-service hotel that will feature at least 182 rooms, a restaurant, a year-around, heated rooftop bar and pool along with a 3,800-square-foot ballroom.

On a recent tour of the property, Malik says the hotel will bring activity to the area and will be used not only by tourists, but also by locals who want to eat at the restaurant, drink on the rooftop bar and hold events like weddings or business gatherings. On Tuesday, construction crews were busy renovating the old buildingsā€”some of which John Gaw Meem had a hand in designing in the early 1950s.

The original St. Vincent Hospital had been on the property since 1953 before it moved to St. Michael's Drive in 1977, according to Drury, and a year later, the state of New Mexico bought the hospital complex and refurbished the buildings to be used as office for state agencies, like the Office of Cultural Affairs. Another older building was used as a ward for tuberculosis patients.

"Our intention is to preserve this handmade tile," Malik says while standing in an old cafeteria of Marian Hall, which opened in 1910. "We have tried to preserve as much of the history as we could." (Justin Horwath)