Blacksburg hotel remains at the heart of Hokie hospitality amid 2019-2020 challenges, sees positive future ahead
The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center is young when compared with Virginia Tech’s nearly 150-year legacy. Yet, as it celebrates its 15th year, the hotel’s popularity – and adaptability in one of its most challenging times – intrinsically links and further strengthens the bond between the two institutions.
Initially built with intention to be the “living room” of Virginia Tech, The Inn has long been a favorite of faculty, alumni and visitors and its short history is already rich from hosting storied guests such as Maya Angelou and Stone Phillips. As the venue for many momentous occasions including graduations, tailgates and the annual Hokie BugFest, one of the most memorable and impactful was hosting the grand celebration for the completion of the university’s “Invent the Future” capital campaign in 2011, the eight-year, $1.1 billion fundraising initiative that became the university’s most ambitious and successful effort in its history.
“The Inn has certainly provided the university, the community and the region the desired level of hospitality envisioned when we opened 15 years ago and has been a vital resource and asset in building the brand of Virginia Tech over the past 15 years,” recalls Dr. John Dooley, CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation who led the launch of The Inn at Virginia Tech. “There have been exceptional times when The Inn and its staff have gone well above and beyond.”
“Undoubtedly, one of those occasions was April 16, 2007, and the days following the tragic shootings on campus,” adds Dooley. “The Inn served as the center of operations for the University’s media response, as well as where families of the victims were received and hosted. It was a very difficult time, but The Inn responded with grace and dignity to make sure the families were provided the necessary accommodations and support.
In the past 12 months, The Inn’s environment has experienced more unexpected events as it switched its focus to host students from Virginia Tech’s largest class ever. Adding to the anniversary year’s intrigue, just as the academic year neared its end and the hotel was planning to resume normal operations, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. In response, The Inn shifted gears once again as its team of conference planning and audiovisual experts opened their minds to new ways of conducting business to keep guests safe and productive.
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve become the heart of hospitality for our community and region,” managing director Tom Cupo says. “We’ve been missing our family of guests over the last year, but we are so excited to see our conference attendees and visitors returning, just in time to help celebrate our 15th anniversary and share in the spirit of rebirth occurring here.”
The Inn, opened in 2005, operates to encourage the exchange of ideas; enable the public to benefit from the university’s knowledge resources through conferences, workshops and courses; and stimulate the regional economy. One way it has succeeded is through The Skelton Conference Center, named for Dr. William E. Skelton, a former dean of Virginia Tech’s extension program, and his wife, Emerita Margaret Groseclose “Peggy” Skelton, an avid supporter of the university and community advocate. The Skeltons’ personification of Virginia Tech’s motto – Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) has been memorialized not only in name, but in The Inn’s work serving the university, Blacksburg and global academic communities.
Since opening, The Inn has added Preston’s restaurant, named for Col. William Preston, undergone renovations, and adapted new uses for distance learning technology developed at Virginia Tech in response to trends in conference and meeting planning.
As The Inn heads into the next 15 years and whatever those years may hold, it remains the living room for the local and extended Hokie family. In recognition of its 15 years of hospitality, The Inn at Virginia Tech is offering special holiday rates during the months of November and December to welcome its family home.
For more information visit www.innatvirginiatech.com.