HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines announced on Thursday their next steps to help transform Waco, Tex., into a tourist destination: the 2021 opening of their own boutique hotel. The couple, best known for their home design and renovation show “Fixer Upper,” shared the news through Joanna’s blog and the couple’s various social media accounts.
The Gaineses’ “dream” for the hotel, Joanna wrote in a blog post, is for it to serve as “an extension of the way we feel about our own home and all it represents to us, and that every guest who comes to stay would experience that same sense of belonging and community."
The hotel will be located in downtown Waco, near the couple’s other projects, such as the Magnolia Market shopping complex. Housed in a historical building that sprawls nearly 53,000 square feet, it will be a collaboration between the Gaineses and Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners, the private real estate company from Chicago behind such notable properties as the Soho House Chicago and the Chicago Athletic Association.
The hotel will be the first of its kind in the Central Texas city, although offerings are growing there. The couple already offers accommodation options dubbed “Magnolia Stays” for fans. The vacation rentals include the Carriage House, a three-bedroom fixer-upper that sleeps six with a weekday rate of $545; the Hillcrest Estate, a historical renovation that sleeps 12 with a weekday rate of $995; and the Magnolia House, a property in the town of McGregor that sleeps eight with a weekday rate of $795.
Waco’s rise in popularity can at least partly be attributed to the Gaineses’ influence. After the Waco-based “Fixer Upper” started airing, in 2013, and after the couple opened Magnolia Market in 2015, the city noticed upticks in tourism.
“In the last couple years, we get 20,000 to 30,000 people a week simply to discover the ‘Fixer Upper’ effect on Waco,” said Todd A. Bertka, the director of the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s sparked its own cottage industry. We’ve had small businesses open and blossom in that period that have benefited from folks coming to visit Magnolia.”
In addition to developing the hotel, the Gaineses are busy expanding Magnolia Market and building a coffee shop and furniture showroom while maintaining their other businesses. Despite that hectic schedule, the couple can be spotted around town from time to time.
“They’re around and not invisible, but their schedule has them very busy, as you can imagine,” Bertka said. “They recently attended a city council meeting in support of a project they’re passionate about."
Bertka hopes that the Gaineses’ projects, as well as the city’s own independent developments, will keep stoking Waco’s tourism momentum.
“Their continued efforts here in Waco to show passion and interest in the town that they’re from is a continual boost in the tourism world,” Bertka said. “These things will continue to keep us on the map and in the minds of folks who want to travel and discover Waco as a destination.”