Small Market Meetings

JUN 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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June 2017 35 By Kristy Alpert W hen guests check in to the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant in Berea, Kentucky, there are no plastic key cards, cold furniture or automated kiosks anywhere in sight. Instead, guests are welcomed by a warm smile and a friendly greeting, then given a metal key to unlock a guest room full of handcrafted wood furniture made by students at Berea College. The Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant has a long history of hospitality, as it was originally built in 1909 as a guesthouse at the request of Nellie Frost, the wife of the Berea College president at the time. Its restaurant alone has made a name for itself, where guests from all over come to sample well- known historical favorites like spoon bread and its famous Chicken Flakes in a Bird's Nest, which was developed by Richard Hougan, the hotel's innkeeper for more than three decades. The hotel has always thrived off its long-standing relation- ship with Berea College, one of the few schools in the world that do not charge tuition. Students of the school can earn a four- year degree with little or no debt through the university's unique work-study format. Even today, many of the student artists can be seen working and creating on campus and in the town from the windows of the Boone Tavern Hotel's guest rooms. Over the years, the Boone Tavern Hotel has acted as a home away from home for artists, dignitaries and scholars who flocked to what has become known as the art and craft capital of Kentucky. It wasn't until 2009, nearly a century after it was first opened, that the Boone Tavern Hotel underwent an extensive $11 million renovation that included earning a LEED Gold Certification, updating its 63 guest rooms and adding a brand-new event center that holds up to 150 guests. The hotel managed to retain its historic charm throughout, but now it juxtaposes its historic, artisanal furnishings with modern appliances, i.e., flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffeemakers, etc., in the guest rooms as well as high-tech audiovisual equipment, lighting and sound for its meeting guests. A History of Hospitality All photos courtesy Boone Tavern Stately white columns welcome guests to Boone Tavern, originally built in 1909.

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