After you've spent 16 years working with Ian Schrager, what do you do for an encore?If you're Tim Miller, you head to Houston and convert a historic 10-story downtown tower into the Alden Hotel. The building's 1924 lobby is dominated by a 40-foot-long David Lander light sculpture that pulses in vivid colors. Upstairs, 97 gray-hued rooms are outfitted with grand leather headboards, crisp white linens, and Texas-sized showers of Russian granite. Crystal chandeliers slice across a crimson ceiling in the restaurant, where executive chef Ryan Pera (formerly the chef poissonnier at New York's Le Cirque) serves his version of meat and potatoes: grass-fed filet mignon with wild mushrooms and buttermilk onion rings. Miller, who started out in the industry as a Royalton bellboy, plans to roll out his concept across the country, with an Alden property in Phoenix, Atlanta, or Austin by late 2006. Alden Hotel, 1117 Prairie St., Houston; 877/ 348-8800 or 832/200-8800;; doubles from $295. —WILLIAM MIDDLETON