Historic Alonzo Ward Hotel in Aberdeen nods to past with new boutique hotel rooms

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 6:45 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Alonzo Ward Hotel opened in Aberdeen over a century ago, and it has now returned to its roots as a boutique hotel.

Alonzo Ward arrived in Aberdeen with just a nickel in his pocket. He opened the Alonzo Ward Hotel and Plaza in 1897. The Ward family owned the hotel for 80 years, but in the early 2000s, the hotel was converted into office space and condos.

Last summer, however, renovations began on the second floor to open 18 boutique hotel rooms.

”It is exciting, because it’s such a beautiful building. It wasn’t doing anything for it just sitting here empty. To have it back and, hopefully, busy would be a nice feature,” said Alonzo Ward Hotel General Manager Sarah Kuntz.

The history of the hotel was honored as much as possible during renovations.

”It’s a lot of the same stuff, it’s just kind of repurposed, which is kind of neat to see. The chandeliers were all upstairs in the ballroom prior, and the old switchboard is still here, and then we do have our cool, old phone booths still,” said Kuntz.

The 18 rooms, however, are all brand new.

“They differ in sizes. So, we have the standard single queen, we have a couple kings, and double beds and then, we have a couple suites as well,” said Kuntz.

Kuntz says having a hotel back in downtown Aberdeen offers visitors a unique experience.

”I am hoping to be busy. I’m hoping Main Street will be kind of the cool place to be again, like it used to be. You don’t have to go far, you have restaurants, you have bars, you have some nightlife downtown that you don’t have to drive anywhere. You’re just here,” said Kuntz.

Roma Italian Restaurant, which opened in the Ward 10 years ago, also still remains, but in a newly renovated space.

”It’s a little bit bigger. We wanted to have a bar and dining room in the same area instead of moving from one side to the other side all the time. We tried to keep some of the old pieces of the restaurant, what it was before. A lot of people, they go, ‘Wow this is beautiful,’” said Roma’s owner Rafi Ismaili.

Ismaili is also impressed with the renovations of The Alonzo Ward Hotel.

“I was surprised, really. I thought it was nice before, but it’s, I think, wide open now. It looks beautiful. I love it,” said Ismaili.

The Alonzo Ward Hotel is now taking reservations, and staff say their first guests arrive next week.