Hotel, conference center get reservations well before opening
Guests started booking rooms at The Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center well ahead of its scheduled opening in May.
“Response has been good,” says Eddie Bumbaugh, the hotel’s director of public relations. “We are already full for graduation weekend.”
The new property is a result of a public/private partnership between the city of Harrisonburg, James Madison University and development company dpM Partners. “We started talking about it six years ago, but it took several years to put the deal together,” says developer Paul Gladd of dpM.
The hotel has a total of 230 rooms — 180 hotel guest rooms and 50 extended-stay rooms with kitchens. The hotel also has a presidential suite measuring more than 1,500 square feet. “The concept was to build the hotel and match the design to the uses that will be most likely in demand,” Gladd says.
The conference center has 21,000 square feet of event space, with multiple breakout options.
The property is located on the grounds of JMU on Harrisonburg’s Main Street. JMU leased the land to the project and is allocating 300 parking spaces in its 1,000-car garage to the hotel and conference center.
The hotel will serve as the headquarters for events and conferences. “We’re working to also get room blocks from nearby hotels to accommodate larger events,” Gladd says, noting the hotel is working with city tourism officials to attract organizations and groups to the area. “The strongest benefit is the highly sought-after tourism dollar.”
JMU students also will benefit. “It’s an opportunity for students at the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management … to have hands-on experience in events, food and beverage, and lodging,” says Bumbaugh.
The conference center includes several classrooms on the second floor of the event space, allowing students to be immersed in the facility’s activities. Students in upper classes also can apply for paid internships. “We will have academic classes as well as the opportunity to shadow and learn from our professional staff,” Bumbaugh says.
Gladd expects JMU to be one of the hotel’s largest customers. “It’s a great opportunity for JMU to make an impression on new students,” he says.