The Williamsburg Inn has made a name for itself in luxury hospitality, winning the five diamond and five star awards this past year, and residents in the area will feel the impact of the lush resort.
“I think it’s just an indicator of the health of the destination and that relates to the tax revenue,” said Bob Harris, interim executive director for Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance. “When people think of Williamsburg, they’ll start to think of luxury.”
Since winning the awards, staff at the hotel have seen a steady uptick in guests, said Travis Brust, the inn’s executive chef and food and beverage director.
In the past year, the Williamsburg Inn has won a five diamond rating from AAA and a five star rating from Forbes. The five star rating is only given to hotels once an expert inspector tests a property on 900 different standards, according to the Forbes website. Hotels that win this award are listed among some of the best in the world.
The five diamond award from AAA is a coveted honor in the hotel industry, with only two other hotels in the state receiving the award, Brust said. This award brands a hotel as being a spot for ultimate luxury, according to the organization’s website. The organization sends inspectors that stay undercover at a location to review all of the aspects of service.
“It’s not just simple service,” Brust said. “We try to anticipate every guests’ need so when they walk through the door they feel welcome and comfortable.”
The Williamsburg Inn has strove to do this through a number of practices, from leaving handwritten notes in the rooms to having a variety of different ice cubes to offer guests. The hotel had been a four star and four diamond property, but for the past three years the entire staff has worked to push it to the next level, Brust said.
“We like to joke and say, ‘we shot for the stars and picked up some diamonds along the way,’” he said.
A history of luxury
Every aspect of the hotel has been chosen with a purposeful eye and that’s a quality that has made it stand out since the beginning, Brust said.
When John D. Rockefeller and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller opened the hotel in 1937, they meticulously detailed all of the aspects of the building to create a non-traditional hotel that resemble more of a country estate, according to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s website.
Since then, the hotel has been a staple of downtown Williamsburg.
“I think it fits in very nicely when you’re driving down and when you look across, it just really feels like a complete restore,” Harris said. “It has a history and connection with the historic area and I think that in addition to its standards of luxury really offer something special to tourists.”
It has stayed true to its roots, maintaining small details like the original rug chosen by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller in the lobby and a set of cigars for sale to guests from when the hotel first opened.
It is those details and the name for luxury that has drawn in high-profile guests, such as Queen Elizabeth II, and kept the hotel as a part of the Williamsburg story.
Keeping it fresh
Most recently, the hotel completed an $8 million renovation that helped to create more lavish guest rooms and new patio spaces, including the opening of a signature restaurant that serves guests on a newly designed outdoor terrace that overlooks the Colonial Williamsburg’s Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Gold Course, complete with a bar and fountain.
Those changes came on the heels of a financial shortfall for Colonial Williamsburg last year, but Brust has already seen the benefits of the new look paying off.
“We went from not really having people here to having 300 guests here on the weekends,” Brust said. “These changes helped to give us a really all-inclusive resort feel.”
This not only benefits the hotel’s business, but residents in the city can expect to see the payoff in their pockets, too.
More tax revenue from tourism offsets taxes for residents and that is what has helped to keep taxes in Williamsburg so low, Harris said.
“You don’t always have to stay at the inn to experience the inn,” Harris said. “Just go after work in the fall and have a cocktail on that terrace-— you’ll know it’s special.”