GRANVILLE, Ohio — When I saw the Granville Inn earlier this month, the grounds were covered with mud and the insides sheathed in plastic tarps. But the sandstone exterior still stood as regal as a fairytale.
This 1924 complex of arches and awnings will reopen to guests on May 8 after a $9 million makeover. Ballrooms are being lovingly restored, guestrooms returned to their historic character, but with contemporary pleasures, from elegant bathrooms to wireless Internet access.
Before the money was spent, the inn was pure faded glory – a kind of blue-haired way station of dated wallpaper and decor.
“The rooms were cold in winter and hot in summer,” said the new general manager, Sean Mulryan. “Now it’s all so automated, I can control the temperature of an individual room from my home.”
Nine guest rooms were added on the third floor, an elevator installed, and a second ballroom created out of an 1800s carriage barn.
Just who would make such an expensive investment? The answer is neighboring Denison University, a small private liberal arts college in this quaint town. Clearly, the school’s administration saw the inn as a big piece of that charm.
“The graduates have a lot of great memories of the inn,” said Mulryan. “A lot of them come back just to visit the inn and eat dinner. Denison understands how important that is, and how important it could be for parents of future students. They want them to have a great stay here.”
Anticipation is running high for the reopening. Mulryan said 20 weddings have already been booked for 2015. Some of those couples took a hardhat tour of the site, a pink hardhat given to the bride-to-be. The main ballroom accommodates up to 160 guests, with the newer ballroom in the old carriage house serving about half that amount.
Rates have not been finalized for the inn’s 39 guest rooms, but they are expected to range “from the upper $100s to the lower $200s” per night, said Mulryan.
Food and beverage will drive the inn’s economy, including in the wood-paneled Oak Room restaurant, which won dining and wine designations before the rebuilding began.
“It’s going to be a destination for foodies,” he said.
“The menu will be sort of American bistro style with some upscale fine dining and some casual fare as well.”
OpenTable will initially handle all reservations until the inn gets up to speed.
The university selected Columbus Hospitality Management Group to run the Granville Inn. While their forte is much larger properties, Mulryan said the inn’s historic and architectural attributes have not been lost on his company, nor on him, a history graduate of Wittenberg University.
“It really needed a large investor,” he said. “I glad there was someone who could give it the love it needed.”