lambuth inn

The iconic Lambeth Inn at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat center dates to 1921, and will see a $3 million renovation starting in January.

The historic Lambuth Inn at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center will see a $3 million renovation early next year.

The makeover will preserve the historic feel and ambiance of the iconic Lambuth Inn, while updating the furnishings and décor of 100 rooms. Lake Junaluska has been systematically tackling a campus-wide modernization of its facilities over the past few years, from its lodging to dining to conference rooms.

Renovating the Lambuth is part of that master plan aimed at increasing Lake Junaluska’s appeal with modern travelers.

“This is the next step to have the quality of sleeping and meeting spaces to be competitive in today’s market,” said Jack Ewing, executive director of Lake Junaluska.

The Terrace Hotel saw a similar $3.2 million renovation in early 2015. The Lambuth project, like The Terrace, will have to be done quickly during the off-season.

Work will begin after Christmas and conclude by early April. Rooms are booked for conferences starting in April, making time of the essence.

Ewing said they would have liked to use a local contractor, but the man-power needed for a fast, intensive project like this couldn’t be met locally, so the lake is hiring First Finish, a firm that specializes in hotel renovations and did the Terrace three years ago.

“They come in and blitz through the building,” Ewing said.

The oldest portion of the Lambuth Inn dates to 1921, with the addition of east and west wings in the 1950s. The Lambuth has 131 rooms, but only 100 will be renovated, and the remainder removed from circulation. The long-range master plan calls for future expansion of the Lambuth to house an theater-style conference meeting hall, so it didn’t make sense to renovate rooms that could be torn out for that project if it ever comes to fruition, Ewing said.

The Lambuth plans call for all new carpet throughout the lobby and lodging rooms, new paint, updated bathrooms, and total refresh of the linens. Rooms will also be modernized more outlets and USB ports that are required by today’s travelers.

Charitable donations will help offset a construction loan for the project. A portion of the cost will also be paid for with proceeds from selling the vacant restaurant building just outside the lake’s entrance on U.S. 19, formerly home to Granny’s Chicken Palace. Lake Junaluska’s board of trustees voted in October to sell the parcel, and a formal offer has already been received.

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