ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The long wait for the opening of the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton in Downtown Abilene is finally over. The doors opened Wednesday afternoon to welcome its first guest, Nanci Liles, the former Executive Director of the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau. Hotel General Manager John Kukreja said she was the perfect choice as the hotel has been a long-time passion project of hers.

“She checked in and we told her, we said to her this is like you’re standing in your vision,” Kukreja said.

KTAB/KRBC was given a tour of the hotel that following Thursday. Kukreja remarked on the hotels’ interior design choices to reflect the Abilene style. Everything from the furniture to the decor on the walls has been selected to give visitors a feel for the key city.

“It will definitely make Abilenians feel more at home and then when the guests come in they’ll be able to get an impression of what Abilene has to offer,” said Downtown resident Alvin Warren. “I’m excited, like I said I live down here so to see anything of this caliber. It only means that downtown is going in the right direction.”

The hotel boasts 200 rooms, a smokehouse restaurant, a cocktail lounge, an outdoor second-floor pool, a fitness center, in-room dining, dry cleaning, and more than 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

Kukreja said the intent for the hotel is to complement the existing Convention Center and offer amenities and services to guests and events that choose to come to Abilene.

“Just with the information provided to us by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, we know that there have been several groups of people that have asked for a convention hotel,” Kukreja said.

That meeting space includes a ballroom that can be divided down the center to host more than one event at a time.

With a mostly positive reception from those that have visited it, the downtown hotel marks an achievement of a longtime city goal and a new era for the Storybook Capitol of America.