For months, Abilenians and those regularly visiting the city have watched a hotel go up downtown, often fascinated by the effort it takes.

The Abilene skyline doesn’t change often.

Recently, signage was placed, trees and vegetation planted, and other final exterior touches checked off the list at the site of the seven-story DoubleTree by Hilton.

On Wednesday, about two dozen guests were the first to stay at the hotel, which now is open. The first to sign in was Nanci Liles, the recently retired executive director of the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau. For years, Liles pushed for a convention-style hotel as a way to attract groups to the city and to bolster downtown development.

She was the first, then, to receive a warm cookie at registration. She had dinner at the Smokehouse, the hotel’s restaurant, said DoubleTree General Manager John Kukreja said. She had the bone-in short rib dinner.

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