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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Craddock Terry Hotel: A perfect fit

Courtesy Craddock Terry Hotel

If the size of your meeting group is 30 to 50, the Craddock Terry Hotel and Event Center in Lynchburg, Va., could be a perfect fit.

The hotel was once part of the Craddock Terry shoe factory, where workers made 100 lines of shoes, thousands of pairs a day, for babies, women and soldiers.

“At one point, Craddock Terry was the fifth-largest shoe factory in the world,” said Christin Gregores, the hotel services manager. “It made combat boots during both world wars and kept Lynchburg in business during the Depression.”

In 2007, the hotel and event center opened as a linchpin in development of Lynchburg’s riverfront, an effort spearheaded by the city and Hal Craddock, a restoration architect who is the great-grandson of one of the shoe company’s founders.

Plans for this Bluffwalk project include a wide, five-block-long pathway and condominiums along a 40-foot-high granite bluff that overlooks the James River.

Shoes of all descriptions
Today, two old brick buildings, which house the hotel and the event center, sit at the eastern end of that bluff. Spiffed up and known as the Bluffwalk Center, the two buildings look from the outside like the old industrial buildings they once were. But when you walk inside, there’s magic.

Next to the 44-room boutique hotel’s front desk, a high-heeled-stiletto chair sets the tone. Wine bottles repose in shoe-shaped holders in a small gift shop. Each guest room door has a depiction of a shoe, everything from saddle shoes to pointy-toed elf slippers. The hotel can arrange to delight meeting-goers with melt-in-your-mouth high-heels shortbread cookies.

And curled up in the lobby sun is the hotel’s mascot, Buster Brown, a nonshedding, hypoallergenic wire-haired fox terrier named for the popular children’s shoe brand made famous by a boy and his faithful dog Tige.

The shoe theme pairs nicely with a restoration that preserves brick and granite walls, massive heart-pine poles that support 20-foot ceilings and the company’s original safe. The safe was too heavy for a crane to lift, so the lobby took shape around it.

A small business center displays old canceled checks that prove that the Craddock Terry shoe factory made millions in its mid-20th-century heyday.

Walls and fabrics throughout the inn in subtle shades of peachy tan and velvety olive add a touch of luxury. All guest rooms have complimentary wireless and Ethernet connections.

Thomas Johnson, a local cabinetmaker, made the furniture throughout the hotel. He works in another old warehouse along the river within sight of the hotel.

Last year, Virginia Living magazine’s readers called the Craddock Terry the best boutique hotel in Virginia. This year, the hotel was one of three hotels chosen as top luxury properties in central Virginia by Virginia Living magazine.