Waynesville Inn sold, will see extensive rehab
An iconic Waynesville landmark sold for nearly $9 million last week, but the new owner’s plans to renovate the 165-acre property, the 111-room hotel and the 27-hole golf course will also become one of the area’s most significant economic development investments — more than $25 million — once it’s completed.
“We are fully restoring the historic Inn, we’re restoring the golf course,” said Grey Raines, managing partner of Raines . “We are doing all those things to make sure that it stays a major part of the Waynesville story. We just want to be good stewards in our time. It’s got a hundred years of history and we want to put it on the path for a hundred more.”
Raines’ group will own, develop and operate the Waynesville Inn , which will expand the company’s footprint in Western North Carolina. Currently, their portfolio includes a number of hotels in the upstate area of South Carolina, bearing the flags of Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott.
In 2020, Raines was selected to manage the Foundry Hotel , an 87-room boutique property in downtown Asheville. That, along with the Hotel Florence in Florence, South Carolina, constitute Raines’ “Woven” brand, which the Waynesville property will now join.
Commercially, it’ll be branded as part of the Trademark Collection by Wyndham , “an independently minded collection of upper-midscale and above properties,” according to a Raines press release. Ultimately, the facility’s name will change, but Raines through a spokesperson declined to provide specifics at this time.
“We’re really excited about what we’re going to be able to deliver — a top-notch golfing and hospitality experience in Waynesville,” Raines said. “Both will see a complete renovation.”
Those renovations will begin this summer and last 16 to 24 months, but the facility is expected to be open during that time. On the hospitality side, the Inn’s room capacity will have to decrease initially, but not permanently.
“One of the exterior buildings is a little outdated and kind of beyond repair. We’ll lose those initially and then we’re going to build rooms back,” Raines said. “We foresee more rooms than currently offered, but you know, that’ll kind of just depend on the success and how people respond to the property over time.”
Cuisine at the rehabbed Waynesville Inn will be handled through a collaboration that’s already proven popular and successful. Seven-time James Beard Award nominee John Fleer, of Asheville’s Rhubarb and Benne on Eagle , will take the helm. Benne is located adjacent to the Foundry Hotel.
Another collaboration that will hopefully yield good results is that of Raines with Bobby Weed Golf Design . Weed is a former PGA Tour in-house architect and disciple of the late Pete Dye, who’s designed or renovated dozens of golf courses throughout the Southeast. Plus, his wife’s from Waynesville.
Weed will have his work cut out for him; perhaps the biggest changes to the Waynesville Inn will be visible out on the links.
The 27-hole course contains an original nine — the “Carolina” course — designed by the legendary Donald Ross in 1926.
Ross, who died in 1948, began his career at St. Andrews in his native Scotland around 1899 and designed Pinehurst No. 2, as well as Asheville’s Municipal Golf Course.
The Ross nine will see some renovations, and another nine holes will see a complete redesign by Weed. The remaining nine will be removed and rebuilt as a practice space with extensive short-game areas, a lighted putting green and a range.
“Instead of taking the property and squeezing in 27 holes, we feel like we can bring a top-notch 18-hole experience, along with practice facilities, unlike anything seen in Western North Carolina,” Raines said.
If all works out as planned with the golf and hospitality improvements, Raines projects that employment levels at the Waynesville Inn will need to increase.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Even pre-COVID numbers, we’ll move well past those. Service is a big part of who we are as a company. Being a company that specializes in people, we realize that we’ve got to have the right people to present the guest experience we’re wanting to drive at Waynesville.”
The level of investment by Raines, coupled with any ancillary job growth, would position the company for significant economic development incentives.
“We are working with the county and the city and to learn more about those,” Raines said. “We do foresee those being a part of the equation, and everybody we’ve dealt with so far has been absolutely fantastic and excited about the project. We would hope that we would qualify for any type of incentives offered by the local governments.”
Follow project updates by visiting www.rainesco.com.
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i like very much working at the inn . the people that i work with make it fun rather than just a job. the only thing is i wished the pay rate increases for housekeeping. we work very hard for the company n the guest .
i like working at the inn the people there seem more like family than coworkers. i just hope the corporation will improve the salary that the housekeepers get.