College Station, Texas has a special way of preserving its historic atmosphere, filled with traditions, legacy, and pride while modernization and innovation sweeps through the town. The town’s mayor, Karl Mooney said it best while being interviewed by OTL magazine, “I’m proud of the way we have been able to grow, and yet at the same time, keep the pace and take care of the older parts of the city.”
College Station’s population didn’t hit 5,000 until 1952, and in the past sixty-six years, has grown to an estimated 119,692. College Station’s emergence as a municipality and current growth has been largely centered around the iconic, Texas A&M University, but now offers services and experiences that appeal to more than just the fraction of the population who are here to earn their degree.
Apart from the legendary bar district known as Northgate, there hasn’t been much of a centralized area that gives residents and visitors options of things to do – until now. Century Square is College Station’s newest hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment and has named itself, “Brazos Valley’s Premiere Community Destination.” The Midway leadership team, which includes a handful of Aggie alumni is the development agency behind the whole project and reports that Century Square is 85% complete as of October, 2018.
The purpose of the 60-acre development is to provide a dynamic community center for people from across the region to congregate and experience College Station in a fresh, new way. Among the impressive list of premiere retail and shopping hotspots such as Lululemon, Hemline and King Ranch Saddle Shop, and the growing cluster of trendy restaurants-some of which being: The Canteen, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Mess Waffles, Etc., Poppy and Porters; there are two full service hotels – each with a unique incorporation of the College Station spirit.
The boutique inspired, Cavalry Court is a retro-chic, 141 room hotel that is strongly ingrained with the University’s culture and traditions. The resort style courtyard, outdoor firepits and modern swimming pool boasts luxury and leisure but feels timeless and classic.
Across the street sits The George, a 162-room luxury boutique hotel that offers the same level of impeccable service as Cavalry Court, but in an entirely different environment where rustic meets refined. Flashback to 1877.
Texas A&M had established itself as the focal point of the community and was at the beginning stages of its immense growth. Because of the expanding population, the postal service determined that the community was in need of designation and deemed that “College Station” was fitting due to its close proximity to the train station that sat just west of campus.
The appreciation of College Station’s history is incorporated in an impressively elegant way within The George in every area between the front door and the top floor. MaRS, the interior architecture studio that designed The George, “was inspired by the authentic lifestyle of the farmer, rancher, artisan, and the various type of Texas craftsmen,” says Kelie Mayfield, Principal of MaRS. “We wanted to reinterpret what one might perceive about Texas through a modern lens.”
The attention to detail and the celebration of Texas heritage throughout the hotel gives guests a reason to appreciate their time at the George and the Lone Star State as a whole in a way that they most likely have never experienced before. Walking out onto the elevator landing after arriving on your floor, you feel as though you stepped onto a platform stop at the train station. As you walk to your guest room or suite, you’ll notice the corridor carpet that was inspired by the historical handwritten train schedules that includes various Texas towns.
It’s details like these along with the highly attentive staff’s level of customer care that defines the experience you’ll receive during your stay at The George. Adding to the list of unique yet desirable characteristics – 1791 Whiskey Bar sits on the first floor and is the perfect place to spend an evening (and/or afternoon). The bar’s theme as a whole can be wrapped up in the following one liner from 1791’s website, “Named after the year the Whiskey Rebellion tax protest began, George Washington leads his army to defend newly formed Government, our bar exemplifies the spirit of the people.”
The handcrafted drinks and the aesthetic of the entire bar and lobby area combined with the staff’s extensive knowledge of each whiskey within 1791’s worldwide collection is beyond impressive and defies the typical expectation one would have when walking up to a hotel lobby bar.
On its own, the lobby of The George could be considered a local attraction, to both residents and visitors alike. Upon entering, it’s likely that you’ll be greeted by the “flock” of sheep that serve as a representation of the Brazos Valley Countryside and the flocks of sheep that graze there. Some members of the “flock” have been stylishly graffitied by Texan Gonzo247 and are sure to brighten up your Instagram profile.
Once you take the perfect selfie with the flock at the front entrance, it’s likely that you’ll be immediately drawn to the Texas Book Wall. The artist behind the masterpiece, Thedra Cullar-Leford, meticulously and artfully, crafted together close to 10,000 Texas-centric books so that their red, white and blue spines create a beautiful Texas flag that appears to be fluttering in the wind. Additionally, in mid-October of this year, the wall was dedicated to Barbara Bush to honor her for her literacy efforts, all the lives that she impacted through her acts of selfless service, her legacy and the commendable example that she set for the rest of us.
Inevitably, intrigue will prompt you to explore further into the hotel’s first floor which boasts intimate seating and lounge areas, a shuffle board table, a “Texas sized porch” with picture perfect, red rocking benches next to outdoor fire pits and a 2018 version of a “local swimming hole”.
Midway and the Valencia Group have gone to immeasurable lengths to combine modern aesthetics and appeal with the roots, values and traditions that make this town everything that it is today.
At their cores, Texas heritage and the importance of community are two things that will stay consistent throughout time, and I believe it’s such consistency and reliability that has ingrained such tremendous loyalty and pride in the hearts of the people of the Lone Star State. Unbeknownst to me, even after emerging as one of the most modern and trendy hotels in the town, The George has resonated with the pride people carry for our state and the loyalty that people have to this town and its traditions. It is THE place to go to experience the unique feeling that one could only find in Aggieland.
By Reagan Vanzura