New hotel at Darden set to open in mid-April
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Forum Hotel on the grounds of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia is set to open its doors April 12. The brand-new luxury hotel is operated by Kimpton Hotels, part of IHG Hotels.
"We kind of think about this as world-class hospitality coupled with world-class academics," said Ashley Williams, the CEO and CLO of Executive Education and Lifelong Learning at the Darden School Foundation.
The Forum Hotel is a brand-new 198-room hotel on the North Grounds of UVA. The property is owned by the Darden School Foundation, but its day-to-day operations are managed by Kimpton Hotels.
The Forum is Kimpton's first on-campus hotel.
This hotel replaces the Inn at Darden, which closed in 2020 and was torn down in 2021.
"We really are here for the community of Charlottesville, and the community here on North Grounds, Darden and the law school, but we certainly want folks to walk through our doors, want folks to experience all of the great amenities we have to offer, and we want the public here in Charlottesville to engage with us," said Kelly Brown, the General Manager at The Forum Hotel.
Amenities at The Forum Hotel include 11,500 square feet of meeting and classroom space, a 6,000 square-foot ballroom equipped to hold up to 400 people, a 2,000-bottle wine cellar, a farm-to-table steakhouse called Birch and Bloom and a craft beer bar called The Good Sport, and a five-acre arboretum and botanical garden, which sits behind the hotel.
"This signals the connection between health, wellness, nature, community, to the actual building itself," Williams said. "It also provides a really interesting connection that wasn't there before, physically, between, for example, the law school and Darden, you can now walk straight across, you don't have to go around."
The hotel is also pet-friendly.
It will serve as a venue for Darden programming, including Darden Executive Education, speaking events, student panels, and Darden's Executive MBA program, which will be the first group to stay in the hotel when it opens, selling out the hotel.
"We're cranking just after we open the doors," Brown said.
The boutique hotel is a unique collaboration, bringing funds into the Darden School's nonprofit arm.
"Any of the, what we call, unrestricted income, that comes from the hotel, is put into the Darden School Foundation, and flows back into the school to support the school, and right now, predominantly, the support of the hotel and the other assets of the Darden School Foundation support scholarships for students," Williams said.
While the hotel is on UVA Grounds, Williams says it is for anyone in the community.
"It really is open to everyone, and I think that's a really important part of why we are so excited about it, because it provides that connection point, and we do want to welcome everyone, from the community, from UVA, we hope all 12 schools at UVA will be here and will be with us and will be enjoying the space and using the space for their academic mission and connection as well," she said.
Kimpton also works to incorporate into the community, through things like sourcing from local farmers, wineries, breweries, and distilleries in its restaurants and taking influence from the local landscape.
"We want to be loved and enjoyed by the community that we're in, not just the hotel guests that come through," Brown said.
The hotel, as well as Birch and Bloom restaurant, opens its doors April 12. The first bookings are available May 1. The Good Sport will open later this month.