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Friday, May 17, 2024

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Schluter updates Hotel Drover with performance and style

Camp Worth, later renamed Fort Worth, was founded at the fork of the Trinity River in 1849 by Major Ripley Arnold of the United States Army. After the Civil War, cattle drives from South Texas to the Kansas railheads would come through downtown to The Fort Worth Stockyards for the cattle to bed down and for drovers (cowboys) to find supplies, rest, and recruit more men when needed. Thus, the drovers contributed greatly to the growth of the city and The Stockyards became the largest livestock-trading center in the southwest until trucking outgrew rail transportation in the 1950s. The Stockyards were given a historical designation in 1976 but were mostly abandoned by that time.

The Interior of Hotel Drover. Photo provided by Hotel Drover.
Photo provided by Tom Atkinson.

The Stockyards remained in limited use for over 40 years until 2018 when The Stockyards Heritage Development Company announced plans for a $175 million development to the district known affectionately as Mule Alley. The plans included renovation of the historic Horse and Mule Barns, addition of shops, restaurants, and live-entertainment venues, and construction of a Marriott Autograph Collection 4-star boutique hotel called Hotel Drover. The goal was to reinvigorate the district with improvements while maintaining the character that made it special in the first place.

Hotel Drover is the anchor of The Stockyards and Mule Alley. Mariott describes it as “an urban ranch oasis, embodying a hacienda modern rustic-luxe design throughout.” Visitors are greeted by leather check-in booths, handcrafted blackened steel chandeliers, and cowhide lounge chairs in the lobby. The 200 guest rooms and suites borrow heavily from Texas and the Old West history and culture, from colors and materials to specific elements like oversized bronze soaking tubs, custom boot jacks, and various other accouterments.

The Presidential Suite at Hotel Drover featuring the Schluter Shower System behind the tile. Photo provided by Hotel Drover.
The Schluter shower kit containing a shower tray, curb, and KERDI waterproofing membrane simplified having the necessary materials in each bathroom, while the Schluter-KERDI-DRAIN adapter kit allowed the contractor to easily convert the existing clamping ring drains to integrated bonding flanges.

The building architect was HKS Inc., and the hotel interiors were managed by Kayla Wilkie, creative design and development, Hotel Drover and Craig Cavileer, EVP, Majestic Realty and co-managing partner, Fort Worth Stockyards. Business Flooring Specialists was the flooring contractor and the tile installer was Fine Line Flooring. Brandon Sather, Senior Sales at BFS, provided insight into the planning and execution of the signature design with particular focus on the tile showers in the guest rooms. The showers represent the perfect marriage of design and function or how modern materials and methods can be used to produce historical charm.

Regardless of design, a tiled shower is only as good as the waterproofing system behind the tile. One of the ways the contractor accelerated the project completion was using the Schluter Shower System. They were able to complete the waterproofing installation in half a day and turn around each shower – tile included – in two days. All of this was possible despite challenges with the as-built condition of the shower area prior to the installation. 

Clamping ring drains designed for use with pan liners had been installed by the plumber instead of the Schluter Kerdi-Drain integrated bonding flange designed for use with bonded waterproofing membranes. The installed drains were also off-center relative to the shower base. The contractor used the Kerdi-Drain adaptor kits to convert the clamping ring drains to integrated bonding flanges. This saved an inordinate amount of time and labor that would have been required to replace the drains embedded in the concrete floors. Rather than placing a mortar base to accommodate the off-center drains, the contractor used Schluter prefabricated foam trays with integrated waterproofing membrane, trimming from the edges and filling gaps as required. Like the adaptor drains, the ability to use the trays saved massive amounts of time and labor. 

Photo provided by Tom Atkinson.
Matte black profiles and the vintage gold finish grate from Schluter-Systems are in perfect harmony with the rustic design of the bathrooms at Hotel Drover. Photo provided by Tom Atkinson.

The Schluter Shower System addressed these challenges in a user-friendly package, quite literally. The contractor took advantage of the shower kits to ensure that each bathroom was outfitted with all the products required to install the showers in a single box. There was no need to search for extra membrane, misplaced drain grates, or any other elements. As Sather said, “Kits make things as easy as possible.”

Much like Mule Alley, the shower designs pay homage and respect to the rich history of The Stockyards while incorporating modern materials. The bathroom floors and some of the shower bases feature modern encaustic tiles. Encaustic tiles were in wide use in the from the 12th to 16th century and came back into favor during the Gothic Revival and Victorian era in the 1800s. Showers walls and most shower bases were clad with white subway tile. While subway tile didn’t come into the mainstream until its use in New York City subway tunnels in the early 1900s – hence the name – it is a staple of classic design in America and integrates well in the overall design of the guest room baths. The bathrooms feature gold fixtures, including the brushed vintage gold Schluter Pure design drain grate, and black accents such as the shower glass hardware that are mirrored in the stunning stone vanity tops. 

The original design incorporated black ceramic trim to finish outside corners, frame the niches, and provide accent lines within the field of subway tile. The flooring contractor introduced the designer to Schluter profiles as an alternative to the ceramic trim. A mockup was built using the Schluter Quadec square edge profile with powder coated matte black finish and the stakeholders were sold on the change. Using the profiles helped the tile installer ensure straight and uniform accents and faster installation that reduced labor costs and sped up the process. The profiles contribute to the appearance of the showers and finish and protect tile edges against chipping.

1. Schluter -KERDI-BOARD-SN prefabricated shower niche. 2. Schluter-KERDI-DRAIN with Brushed Vintage Gold grate in Pure design. 3. Schluter-KERDI-BOARD-SC shower curb with Schluter-RONDEC profile in matte Black. Photos provided by Tom Atkinson.

Today The Stockyards attract an estimated 3 million visitors every year with a quarter of them coming from out of state. This is proof positive that the renovation of Mule Alley was a massive success for The Stockyards Heritage Development Company and the City of Fort Worth. Honoring the history and culture of The Stockyards while modernizing the area made the area incredibly attractive to tourists from across the country. Hotel Drover is a key feature in the community and Schluter Systems is proud to have contributed to its quality within the framework of the design.

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