GRANVILLE – When the Granville Inn reopens next spring following about eight months of renovation and structural additions, it won’t look much different on the outside.
But the interior should be turning heads, say those close to the project.
One goal of the refurbishing is to transform the nearly 90-year-old inn into a luxury, four-star facility that should retain and even expand upon its reputation as a top Central Ohio dining and lodging destination.
That was the goal when Columbus Hospitality Management agreed to take over the facility for Denison University after it was acquired in late 2013 from receivership with Heartland Bank.
“We delivered to (Denison) what our expectations were going to be — to take this to the four-star level we’ve been looking for,” said Christopher Bee, vice president of operations and of Food and Beverage with the hospitality company.
Seth Patton, vice president for finance and management at Denison, said: “We’re trying to make it a better experience for guests for the most part.
“The beauty and history of the inn are important to both the village and the college, and our ambition is to have it be available for generations to come,” Patton said.
Shifting the setup
Most noticeable when visitors step through the main entrance will be a reversal of the formal dining and pub areas. What is now the Acorn Pub, instead of being in small quarters at the front corner of the inn, will be just off the main entry and occupy nearly the same space as formal dining does now, according to a floor plan.
The formal dining area will move to where the pub is now. That means a bigger pub with more tables for casual dining and smaller formal dining area. Meanwhile, the front patio, without the awning, also will have tables.
“Our customers have told us over the years that casual dining would make this more of an everyday destination,” said Dena McKinley, named general manager of the inn by Columbus Hospitality Management. “By expanding the pub environment, we think that will serve a need.”
“We realized this is clearly the most popular area — the casual,” she said. “That seems to be what the market is telling us.
McKinley said the bar was so small because it was a last-minute addition after Granville allowed sale and consumption of alcohol in the village in 1974. She said that with the larger size there would be more craft beers and a larger assortment of liquors.
The Great Hall will remain at its location across from the current pub area, but with a new ceiling, wall treatments and custom-designed carpet.
“I think it will have a different ambiance,” McKinley said.
A three-bay garage in the carriage house behind the inn, which originally was the Granville Female College, will be transformed into 1,200 square feet of new banquet space, she said.
“It will lead out to that courtyard behind the wall,” she said of the area just outside the main entrance and where the driveway curves around. It will be used for outdoor events.
Bee and McKinley said the check-in environment will change dramatically to a more upscale, open concierge environment.
“It will be more a classic check-in experience,” Bee said, indicating that clients will sit down with a host for the process. “It’s a luxury hotel check-in.”
McKinley said guests can expect more concierge services, such as scheduling rounds of golf and dinner reservations, which she said the inn’s environment does not now foster.
With assistance from Chef Chad Lavely, Bee said the kitchen will be completely refurbished, including the new catering kitchen.
“We’ve redesigned the kitchen realizing it’s the heart of the inn, really,” Bee said.
“The catering kitchen will have an entrance to the Great Hall, which is going to vastly facilitate service,” McKinley said.
The 10 new rooms on the third floor will make for a total of 37 in addition to three suites. That will include more rooms with two beds, which has been a shortfall, McKinley said.
“The inn has not been conducive for Denison parent visits or golf outings or business-related retreats because we had so few rooms that could house two adults,” she said.
There will also be more handicap-accessible rooms that the inn did not previously have, she said.
The little things
The hotel will now offer “full access to business services,” with audio-visual services in conference rooms, Bee said.
“The neat thing about this is things are not going to be (seen by) the open eye,” he said. “Everything is going to be built in, and diminished.”
Also inside, Bee said, woodwork would be polished, and interior designs will be by Natalie Sheedy, of Chicago, who has worked with Columbus Hospitality Management on other projects.
The exterior front of the inn will remain virtually the same, he said.
“The awning is going away,” Bee said, with the fabric to be re-cut for awnings over the windows. “That’s completely historically accurate.”
“There’s no changes to the facade on the Broadway side of the street,” McKinley said, noting that most of the building changes will be in the rear, where the additional rooms will be built.
McKinley said 12 parking spaces are gained through reconfiguration of the Granger Street and College Town House parking lots. In addition, truck deliveries will be made to a back entrance of the inn, rather than the front, via a new driveway behind the College Town House.
Handicap accessibility into the building will be vastly improved, McKinley and Bee said.
“The elevators are the biggest thing,” Bee said.
“The old handicapped access is going away on the east side of the building. The accessibility will all be from the west side of the building,” McKinley said.