Recent headwinds haven’t stopped the hospitality industry in the Carolinas from preparing for better times. The past year has seen a slate of new hotels, resort additions and hotel and convention center remodels. Here are just a few of the properties that came online in 2020 or that broke ground and are expected to be completed in the near future.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
Cherokee, North Carolina
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, which opened in 1997 in Cherokee, North Carolina, is in the midst of a $350 million expansion project that includes an 85,000-square-foot conference center and a new hotel tower with 725 guest rooms. When the project is completed in October, the resort will have more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space and 1,800 guest rooms.
The conference center is a game changer for the small town of Cherokee and the Carolinas. It will be the largest hotel conference center in both states and will allow the resort to attract larger meeting groups from across the country. The resort is owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and is near the back entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It will have a 35,000-square-foot exhibit hall on the lower level and a 35,000-square-foot pillarless ballroom upstairs. Air walls will help break up the space. There is also a 900-square-foot boardroom and about 20,000 square feet of prefunction space.
As part of the project, the Asheville-based Wicked Weed Brewery will open at the resort, and the resort’s buffet will be replaced with a chef-inspired food hall, which is expected to open in the fall. The resort already has a 3,000-seat event center that works well for large stage productions, concerts, trade shows and large general sessions; 3,000 casino games; a luxury spa; and the UltraStar Multi-Tainment Center, an adult bowling alley concept that includes two bars, an arcade, food options and a patio with a fireplace that groups can rent out.
Grande Cayman Resort
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The former Long Bay Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, completed a multimillion-dollar renovation in spring 2020 that included exterior and interior improvements and a new name. The exterior of the buildings and the pool deck received fresh coats of paint, and every unit in the guest towers was remodeled to achieve a more modern aesthetic. The color scheme outside is gray, coral and white. Inside, the rooms are gray and white with hints of terra cotta and aqua throughout. All the guest rooms have new black appliances, doors, lighting, shiplap wood walls, artwork and furniture.
A new lobby bar and restaurant was added as part of the renovation. Called Due South at 72nd, the restaurant offers a selection of appetizers and sandwiches for lunch and a more robust menu for dinner that includes ribs, burgers, steak and seafood options. A new second-floor restaurant, the Turtle Bay Café, is a great place for visitors to enjoy a drink on the veranda overlooking the outdoor pool. The cafe has wonderful ocean views and serves sandwiches, salads and snacks.
The resort has an outdoor oceanfront pool and hot tub, a 250-foot-long lazy river, a 35-foot kids pool, a 50-foot indoor swimming pool and three four-person whirlpools. Its brand-new Silly Sub Water Park features a three-story waterslide, a large yellow submarine and a sea serpent for children to play on. The resort has 260 guest rooms and 1,700 square feet of meeting space that can host meetings or banquets for up to 75 people.
Grand Bohemian Hotel Greenville
Greenville, South Carolina
The Grand Bohemian Hotel Greenville, a 187-room luxury boutique hotel and spa, will open in November in Falls Park, the iconic urban park that sits alongside the Reedy River and Reedy River Falls in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. The new hotel will be at the entrance to the park, where the river begins, and was designed to look like a national park lodge. It will feature 30 balcony suites.
The hotel overlooks the falls and Liberty Bridge and is being built with native materials such as natural stone, weathered wood and timber to help the property blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings. Expansive windows throughout allow guests to enjoy views of the beautiful river and park.
The main level of the hotel includes a grand lobby, a park overlook terrace, event spaces, gallery retail, a Poseidon Spa, an extensive art collection and a two-story restaurant and bar that overlooks the river.
Guest suites will be perpendicular to the riverbank, and terrace suites will overlook the Reedy River Falls and the Liberty Bridge. The new hotel is near many of Greenville’s major attractions, including museums, shops and restaurants.
Greenville, North Carolina
The Ficklen, a new boutique hotel in Greenville, North Carolina’s Uptown neighborhood, is expected to open in January 2023 as a Tribute Portfolio by Marriott property. The 72-room hotel, which will begin construction this year, will transform a historic tobacco building into the first hotel in downtown Greenville.
The design of the hotel harkens back to Greenville’s history and its roots in the tobacco industry. The three-story Ficklen building is attached to a 17,000-square-foot addition that was built in the early 1900s. That building will be the largest event space in downtown Greenville. The only other large meeting space downtown is the convention center. The space will seat 500 people and can be subdivided into three smaller rooms. It will have about 8,000 square feet of finished event space when it is completed.
The Star Warehouse, a 76,000-square-foot, one-story warehouse with steel trusses and 18-foot ceilings, will be converted into a food hall with 10 to 12 individual vendors and will be the first food hall concept in eastern North Carolina. The owners expect to host a farmers market there a few days a week, and they have plans for an entertainment venue on the property. The Ficklen is just a couple of blocks from East Carolina University and next to the Dickinson Avenue Arts District.
New Bern Riverfront Convention Center
New Bern, North Carolina
The New Bern Riverfront Convention Center in New Bern, North Carolina, got a much-needed facelift in 2020 after sustaining water damage during Hurricane Florence. The building was already scheduled for renovation, and the storm just moved up the timeline. As part of the renovation, the 20-year-old facility expanded Heritage Hall in the back of the building by 1,500 square feet. The new space, called the View, has floor-to-ceiling windows that give visitors a spectacular view of the river. The new Riverfront Veranda wraps from the View to Ballroom B, and the Riverfront Patio is on the lower level. Three pergolas were installed outside to host cocktail hours and receptions. And Riverfront Greens is a large green lawn that faces the river and is lovely for wedding ceremonies and other outdoor events.
The renovation included new marble paneling; LED lighting that can change colors; digital signage, including a video wall inside and a monument sign outside; new carpet tiles; and a new color scheme. The building used to be decorated in gold, forest green and burgundy. It is now painted in bright blues and white, making everything look bigger and brighter, including the hallways. The facility went from 29,000 square feet of meeting space to nearly 32,000 square feet.
The ballroom, which is 12,000 square feet, is divisible by three. The room never had access to natural light; as part of the renovation, a wall was removed in Ballroom B and glass windows were installed for a wonderful view of the river.