‘A very special place’: The Highlander Hotel Radford officially opens
The Radford University community celebrated the opening of The Highlander Hotel Radford with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 4.
“Today we celebrate yet another Highlander achievement, the one that focuses on warmth and hospitality and vision, but it's rooted in economic potential and the real business needs of our community,” said Radford University President Bret Danilowicz minutes before the ceremonial opening of the hotel.
The Highlander Hotel Radford is a six-story destination hotel and conference center inspired by the Scots-Irish origins of Southwest Virginia, “but with a modern twist,” said hotel general manager Rachel Pegues. It features 124 rooms, including optional adjoining rooms and four apartment-style suites.
“This is obviously a very special place for experiences such as conferences, family events and community celebrations region-wide,” Danilowicz said. “From homecoming to commencement, sporting events and alumni events, I know these halls will be filled with energy, and I can’t wait to see it all spring to life.”
Located on Tyler Avenue, adjacent to Radford University, the hotel is about 4 miles from Interstate 81 exit 109. It has more than 6,000 square feet of event space, including a 4,000-square-foot ballroom that will accommodate 250-300 people for meetings and up to 220 for weddings. A 500-square-foot executive board room resides in the hotel with space for private dining for up to 20 people.
The hotel employs 65 staff members, Pegues said; 20 of those, President Danilowicz added, are Radford University students. “They are going to be working alongside seasoned industry experts under this roof,” the president said, “helping to advance their careers.”
The Highlander Hotel Radford has two restaurants. The Bee & Butter rooftop restaurant and bar features a menu of locally sourced ingredients and offers views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Radford University campus. The restaurant is scheduled to open on April 15. The Highlander Red Provisions offers breakfast and lunch, as well as a coffee bar serving locally sourced Red Rooster Coffee.
Other hotel amenities include an on-site concierge and visitor’s center and 24-hour front-desk operation, as well as:
- Free Wi-Fi in rooms and public areas
- 55-inch smart TVs
- Personal steamer in each guest room
- Floor-to-ceiling windows in each guest room
- On-site parking
- Modern fitness center
- Special rates for parents of Radford University students and Radford alumni
The $40 million project was made possible by a public-private partnership with Radford University, the Radford University Foundation, design firm Blur Workshop, Preston Hollow Capital, S.B. Ballard Construction Company and Aimbridge Hospitality. Construction began on the hotel in April 2021 and was completed in April 2023.
“The hotel started as just an idea that Radford should have a distinguished new hotel, one fitting of its place on the doorstep of this incredible university,” Pegues said, “one that could serve the businesses that call this region home and with an experienced management team that could bring this new promise to life.”
City of Radford Mayor David Horton spoke on the bright, sunny afternoon about the benefits the new hotel will have on the Southwest Virginia community. “This is going to be a great asset for our community,” the mayor said, “not just for the folks who visit us from far away, but for the people who live here in Radford and the New River Valley who come together to celebrate and engage in joining together.”
Ramiro Albarran, managing director at Preston Hollow Capital, said it was “amazing” to see the hotel transition from renderings to the physical facility being celebrated, especially through challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues. “Its real form is mind-boggling,” he said.
The hotel officially opened on April 1, with its first guests being Radford University alumna Joey Thornton Hair ‘95, her husband Mark and their son, Hunter.
“I’m excited that this is a place for our alumni and visitors to stay,” Danilowicz said, “and the impact it is going to have on our community.”