BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 17, 2003 – Virginia Tech has expanded its relationship with Hilton Hotels Corporation to manage the university's new hotel, The Inn at Virginia Tech, and the Skelton Conference Center in preparation for its opening in May 2005. Vice Provost for Outreach and International Affairs John E. Dooley announced the new accord which will complement the agreement under which Hilton has managed The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center for the Virginia Tech Foundation under the Doubletree brand. This agreement, which will go into effect on Oct. 1, will also provide for Hilton's management of the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center on the Virginia Tech campus.
"Virginia Tech is instituting this new working relationship with Hilton two years ahead of the new hotel and conference center's grand opening to allow ample time to perfect coordinated operations with the Donaldson Brown staff, which will move to the new facility, and to plan administration of a second large operation with first-class facilities. We are looking for benefits to both operations, particularly in day-to-day operations and marketing, and to the university as a whole," Dooley said. "We are confident that Gary Walton, who has demonstrated his mettle as general manager of The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center for Hilton, will also excel as the managing director for both facilities under the new umbrella arrangement."
According to Virginia Tech Provost Mark McNamee, the university is "very happy to have this management team on board that will assist us in strengthening our historic work in outreach, continuing education, and other programs that are carried out through our hotels and conference centers. Our current Hilton relationship with the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center has been very successful in helping us to develop the outreach programs that take knowledge from the university off campus to the public."
The Inn at Virginia Tech and the Skelton Conference Center will be part of the university's new $46 million alumni and conference center on campus. The hotel will feature 147 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites. More than 20,000 square feet of technologically advanced meeting space at the conference center will include a ballroom with a seating capacity of 800, a dedicated auditorium and 15 additional conference rooms. When complete, the mixed-use facility will be the largest hotel and conference center in Virginia west of Roanoke.
The university's alumni association, an important partner in the agreement, supports the new umbrella management arrangement. According to Thomas C. Tillar, Tech's vice president for alumni relations, "All of us in the Virginia Tech Alumni Association are very pleased that the management organization for The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center will also be responsible for managing the new hotel and conference center on campus. Many alumni have been complimentary of the Roanoke property and will be delighted to have the same quality of service and comfort at the new hotel."
"Hilton is delighted to have the opportunity to expand its current relationship with Virginia Tech and apply that experience toward ensuring a successful conversion to the university's outstanding new hotel and conference center," said Gary Walton of Hilton Hotels Corporation. "Bringing the university's hotel operations together under a single Hilton management team will certainly create great synergies, efficiencies and improved performance for both properties."
Walton has been area vice president and general manager of The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center -- A Doubletree Hotel for nearly ten years. A 26-year veteran of the hospitality industry, he has managed the day-to-day operations of numerous hotels throughout the country. Walton is a member of the Virginia Tech hospitality and tourism management program advisory board and a board member of both the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association and the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Walton will spend part of each week at Virginia Tech. A management committee representing both Virginia Tech-related properties will coordinate the marketing and operations for the two hotels and conference centers.
The Norfolk Southern Corporation donated The Hotel Roanoke to the Virginia Tech Real Estate Foundation after it closed the landmark property in 1989, bringing to an end 107 years of railroad management of the facility, known as the "Grand Old Lady." Under the leadership of Raymond Smoot, executive vice president of the Virginia Tech Foundation, the foundation restored and modernized the hotel with donations and loans, many from local individuals and companies and expanded the conference facilities with the City of Roanoke's participation.
Today, The Hotel Roanoke, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, has 332 rooms, including 19 suites, and 63,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, accommodating groups from 10 to 1,400 for events and conferences.
About The Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center
The Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg has 128 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting space in the conference and dining facilities that can accommodate up to 400 people. Outreach Program Development, part of Outreach and International Affairs, currently manages Donaldson Brown, which is adjacent to Alumni Hall. The hotel and the department of hospitality and tourism management at Virginia Tech have a mutually beneficial arrangement of shared resources under which students have the opportunity to gain experience by working in a full-service hotel. Faculty and hotel staff provides innovative approaches to learning, while the collaboration visibly demonstrates the cooperation between academic and auxiliary components of Virginia Tech.
About the Virginia Tech Alumni and Conference Center
Virginia Tech is now constructing a complex of three new facilities: a hotel, a conference center and an alumni center. Plans for the 191,360-gross-square-foot complex were first made public in October 2000 and groundbreaking occurred in April 2003.
The Inn at Virginia Tech will feature three executive suites, three parlor suites and 141 comfortably appointed guestrooms. The hotel will also provide space for Virginia Tech's department of hospitality and tourism management program. In addition to the day-to-day experience provided by this facility, students will also benefit from the on-site hotel/restaurant management lab space, a demonstration kitchen and a classroom.
The Skelton Conference Center, named for Bill and Peggy Skelton, is directly connected to the alumni center's second level and to the Inn at Virginia Tech. It will give the university community the capacity to host major events, from reunions and social gatherings to international meetings and teleconferences. The Skelton Conference Center will include a 9,200-square-foot ballroom capable of seating up to 750 people, 13 meeting and conference rooms of various sizes and a spacious pre-function hall with a view of the Alumni Lawn. The inside function and outside terrace spaces, when used together, will be able to accommodate more than 5,000 people.
The Holtzman Alumni Center, named for William Holtzman of Edinburg, Va., will be the home of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and offices for associated university personnel. In addition to the Grand Hall, the Holtzman Center will include a museum, special collections library, an auditorium, meeting rooms and offices.
Information about the Inn at Virginia Tech and the Alumni and Conference Center is available online at http://filebox.vt.edu/alumni/alum/center.html .
About Hilton Hotels Corporation
Hilton Hotels Corporation is recognized internationally as a preeminent hospitality company. The company develops, owns, manages or franchises approximately 2,100 hotels, resorts and vacation ownership properties. Its portfolio includes many of the world's best known and most highly regarded hotel brands, including Hilton®, Conrad®, Doubletree®, Embassy Suites Hotels®, Hampton Inn®, Hampton Inn & Suites®, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hilton Grand Vacations Company®, and Homewood Suites by Hilton®. For more information, visit our website at www.hiltonworldwide.com.
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