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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Craddock Terry Hotel: A perfect fit

Buster, the hotel dog, courtesy Craddock Terry Hotel

Old warehouse has new role
A walkway connects the main hotel with a five-story former tobacco warehouse. Today, it houses the 4,000-square-foot Event Center, two restaurants and a microbrewery.

On the third level, the Event Center consists of a  2,000-square-foot divisible space and another 1,350-square-foot space. The center is often used for “meet and eat” functions where a group meets in one space and has a meal in the other. Both rooms are equipped with the latest audiovisual equipment and Internet technology.

A small prefunction area connects the two rooms.

For six years, Carolyn Toney has taken Scott Insurance’s 70-person sales staff there for meetings.

“We love the look of the meeting space. It doesn’t feel like a hotel. And the staff is most accommodating,” she said. “I’d love it even better if it were larger.”

Toney may get her wish.

“We need a 100-room hotel,” Craddock said. “We are in negotiations with property owners around the hotel to add another 50 to 60 rooms, probably by 2014 or 2015.”

Although the Event Center has a dedicated banquet kitchen, many groups opt to dine one level up in Shoemakers American Grille, where the specialties are steaks and seafood.

The 180-seat restaurant has four private dining areas equipped with flat-screen televisions for presentations. The smallest of the four dining room seats eight; the largest seats 50.

For kicking back after hours, Waterstone, on the Event Center’s first level, hops every night, serving fire-roasted pizza and Jefferson Street Brewery’s draught beer, made on the premises. Up a spiral staircase, the brewery has a loft tasting room for groups.

Museum shares the bluff

At the opposite end of the bluff, Amazement Square, a children’s museum where older children can also play, occupies another resurrected warehouse. Private receptions are often held on the fourth floor of the museum, where a splashy working model of the James River gets covered with Plexiglas so it can double as a refreshment table.

Amazement Square can also be used for team-building events like bike-a-thons, jump rope contests or operating a three-man crane that lifts the Great Wall of China.

Other options for active events include a ropes course at Lynchburg College, tubing and kayaking on the river and cycling on the eight-mile James River Heritage Trail adjacent to the hotel. And there’s skiing any time of year on the synthetic surface at Liberty University’s Snowflex Center (see sidebar, below).

Rise and shoeshine
One of the hotel’s most charming ties with history is the old-style wooden shoeshine box guests find on their beds. Guests place their boxes outside the door before 2 a.m. and the box is filled the next morning with a complimentary continental breakfast.

Shoes left at the front desk in the evening gleam with a complimentary shoeshine when they are collected the next morning.

One meeting planner made his own fun with the hotel’s shoe theme. He held a contest.

“We asked everyone to bring shoes to compete in categories like Best Power-Selling Shoes and Best Leisure Shoes,” said Roy Lowe, a regional manager for Butler Schein, a distributor of animal health products. “Some people brought a different pair for each category. We had a great time.”

Lowe, who has organized meetings at resorts throughout the country for 30 years, said his meeting at Craddock Terry was “the most memorable and efficient we’ve ever held.”

It was a perfect fit.