Grand day for Hotel Weyanoke

Published 12:30 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The grand opening of the Hotel Weyanoke took place Monday in Farmville as a crowd of people gathered on High Street to hear a brief series of speeches before flooding into the renovated facility to take in the hard work of those who have helped bring it back to life.

Leading off the guest speakers, Cornerstone Hospitality President and CEO Kimberly Christner said, “We’re so excited to bring back this iconic property. It’s beautiful for Farmville, it’s beautiful for the region. It’s a game-changer for Farmville in the luxury boutique arena that you have now, downtown, walking distance to everything, right across from Longwood, not too far from Hampden-Sydney.”

Farmville Mayor David Whitus noted in his speech that the renovated hotel is a first for Farmville on a number of fronts.

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“It’s Farmville’s first boutique hotel, and it contains Farmville’s first rooftop (food and beverage venue),” he said. “And if you’ve not seen Farmville from the rooftop, it offers spectacular panoramic views.”

Whitus highlighted the hotel’s storied past.

“It was opened in 1925, and it has a really neat local tie in that the Farmville Lions Club began a fund drive in 1923 because they saw the need for Farmville to have a hotel, and back in the ’20s, it was considered a convention center,” he said. “With the new hotel and train service east and west, Farmville became known as a convention center. Imagine that — Farmville as a convention center. It’s also said that Farmville became known as Virginia’s friendly town. And between 1926 and 1928, it hosted 10 statewide conventions, including the Lions state convention in 1927 with Helen Keller.”

Whitus predicted Farmville will be hosting conventions again in the future.

“I want to say a quick ‘thank you’ to the owners, the staff for all that you’ve done to bring this hotel back to life,” he said. “Thank you, and welcome to Farmville.”

Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joy Stump opened her speech by expressing her thought that everyone present there will remember the day for a long time.

“I want to thank Cornerstone Hospitality and everybody who has been working so hard to bring back this beautiful, historic, almost 100-year-old hotel to our community,” she said. “You have exceeded all of our expectations.”

Stump said guests will be impressed with the hotel’s classy and beautiful rooms.

“This is exactly what our wonderful town has needed,” she said. “We’re also so happy and so appreciative of all the jobs that you have created for the citizens here. Hotel Weyanoke has been committed to hiring locally. So many citizens of our community have prospered already. So on behalf of the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce, we wish the hotel, all the employees and Cornerstone Hospitality the absolute best and most successful future.”

In her speech to open Monday’s event, Christner said, “We are so thrilled with our staff. We’ve been fortunate to find local people to come and work in this hotel, so it’s not only been a great thing for the economy, but it’s been a great thing for the people that live and work in Farmville.”

Wirt Confroy, Virginia Tourism Corporation’s director of business development, spoke briefly, and said, “For me, as someone who grew up in southern Virginia and frequented Farmville all of my life, it’s just wonderful to be here and see something old (made) new again …”

Hotel Weyanoke co-owners/developers Ross Fickenscher and Garrett Shifflett offered thanks in their speeches to the different organizations and people who helped make the project possible.

“This really is indeed a significant day for the Town of Farmville, Longwood University and the commonwealth,” Fickenscher said. “There is an energy about this project in the community that we’ve experienced on the job here every day that’s unlike any other that we’ve experienced elsewhere. It’s really made participating in this project very special for us and for the team here and everyone involved.”

Shifflett said, “We are extremely proud to have the opportunity to put this project together and present it to you today.”

He described the development process as tough, “but it’s very fulfilling.”

Hotel Weyanoke General Manager John Shideler spoke last and said, “I’ve been part of many projects over the years, and none of them have been more exciting as much as the restoration of this historic property. What’s excited me most was hearing from you, the community of Farmville, on how thrilled you are to have the Hotel Weyanoke restored into a spectacular boutique hotel property.”

Both Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) were represented at the event, with Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV and H-SC Provost Dennis Stevens each speaking briefly.

“I think it’s fair to say that it feels like springtime in Farmville in so many ways more broadly,” Reveley said. “There’s so much momentum, so many good things happening, and this is really what will be the catalyst, this hotel, for so many more things. The great restaurants opening here and across town, the brewery, the wine bar, bookstore on Main Street — the vitality is real.”

In his speech, Steven said, “I’ve had a chance to look around inside, and it is gorgeous. It is beautiful, and it is classy. It’s a great addition to Farmville. I’m honored to be here to represent Hampden-Sydney College and to join the entire Farmville community in welcoming this historic Weyanoke hotel on its reopening.”