|By Allie Robinson, Bristol Herald
Courier, Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 12, 2013--CLINTWOOD, Va. -- Visitors to the Ralph Stanley Museum, a Greenwave football game or Breaks Interstate Park soon won't have to go far to spend the night with the opening later this month of Clintwood's first commercial hotel.
A Sleep Inn will open Feb. 25, said James Oliver, vice president of operations. But it looks so nearly complete that hotel staff have turned away would-be guests.
"We are in the final stages of cleaning the hotel, training the staff and finalizing the last bit of touch-up work," Oliver said. "We've turned away an average of four or five people a day who wanted to check in and stay. We've had to say it's not quite ready."
The hotel, across from Clintwood High School, has 53 rooms and will employ about 15 people, Oliver said. It was built with a $3.6 million loan from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, which came through the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority. Oliver said the final tallies aren't in, but he thinks the hotel stayed within budget.
Officials broke ground on the structure in June 2011 and construction began in earnest that summer. The facility was expected to take about 18 months to complete.
Town and county officials have expressed enthusiasm about the new lodgings.
"With the coming of the hotel, it will allow us to keep people here in the county longer," said Charlotte Mullins, director of the county's Industrial Development Authority. "When people come to visit this county, they stay in Wise or Kentucky."
She said the county has small, family-owned hotels, but the Sleep Inn will provide a larger venue for tourists.
"We're seeing increased tourism but they're not staying in the county," she said. "And right now when I have business prospects come in, we're having to house them somewhere else."
Clintwood Mayor Donald Baker echoed Mullins' comments.
"I hope it will allow us to keep visitors in town rather than going outside of the town and the county to find lodgings," Baker said. "We want them to stay here and spend their dollars here."
He said people seem excited about the new facility.
"The perception has been good," he said. "I think most people are glad to see we're getting an upscale hotel. It's something the town has needed, the county has needed, for quite some time."
Mullins said the hotel, which is the second in the state built with a new design by Choice Hotels, Sleep Inn's parent company, is beautiful.
"I have stayed at hotels in the country that this is on level with," she said. "It's the same type of furnishings and the same quality. It's beautiful; I'm pleased."
(c)2013 the Bristol Herald Courier (Bristol, Va.)
Visit the Bristol Herald Courier (Bristol, Va.) at www2.tricities.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services