The Peabody, a historic Memphis hotel famous for its Southern hospitality and marching ducks, is planning to branch out to North Texas, starting with a 300-room hotel in Roanoke near Texas Motor Speedway.
Many details, including timing, are still being worked out, a spokeswoman for the hotel said, but the brand hopes to break ground next year. Construction could take up to three years.
The Peabody, which celebrates its 150th birthday next year, would be part of a larger development, said Cody Petree, Roanoke assistant city manager. He referred additional questions, including questions about potential incentives, to the hotel.
Plans include 30,000 square feet of event space, a spa and a rooftop area open to the public, said Kelly Brock Earnest, director of marketing and communications for the Peabody Memphis.
“It’s fairly early on the planning stage,” she said.
The hotel is looking to include many of its signature items, including the duck walk, a Peabody attraction since the 1940s.
The Peabody website also lists plans for a “Dallas-area resort with 750 rooms and a water recreation focus.”
“There are a number of projects that we’re working on, that potentially is one of them,” Earnest said.
The North Texas outposts could be part of a broader expansion for the brand, which launched in 1869. The hotel website lists only the flagship Memphis location as being open now. Peabody locations in Little Rock and Orlando were sold in 2013.
The hotel website also lists future locations in California, Colorado and Mississippi.
The Peabody Memphis opened as the South was rebuilding after the Civil War. It quickly became the business and social hub of Memphis, according to the hotel website.
In 1925, a new Peabody was built at its current location on Union Avenue, where it continued to host presidents and celebrities.
In the 1930s, general manager Frank Schutt and a friend put ducks in the hotel’s lobby fountain because they “thought it would be funny,” according to the website. The three small English call ducks were an instant hit and were soon replaced with five North American mallard ducks.
In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help deliver the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until he retired in 1991.
The Peabody Ducks still march daily, in at 11 a.m. and out at 5 p.m.
In the mid-1970s, downtown Memphis experienced economic decline, and the Peabody closed. The hotel was rescued and restored by the Belz family, major real estate developers. It reopened in 1981.
The Memphis landmark is in the National Trust Historic Hotels of America.