The sun shone in Blacksburg for the first time in days on Sunday July 10 when Virginia Tech opened its new 147-room hotel and conference center located on 25 acres of the northwestern corner of campus.

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger welcomed the crowd that included administrators and university staff who had worked for years toward this day, as well as Hilton Hotels personnel who are managing the upscale facility for Virginia Tech.

“The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center represent Virginia Tech’s commitment to sharing knowledge through outreach,” Steger said. “This beautiful structure will be a place where communities, businesses, governments, and representatives from other universities can come to our campus to learn what we have to offer, and to teach us what they themselves have learned.”

Steger thanked all those who had contributed financially or with their time and labor toward making this day possible. He mentioned Bill and Peggy Skelton of Blacksburg as “two very dear friends of the university”. . . for whom the conference center is named and recognized them with a gift. Bill was national chair of the fundraising campaign for the complex and also chaired the facilities planning committee. Peggy also lent her unflagging support to the campaign and actively participated in choosing the art work for the center.

Speaking on behalf of himself and his wife, Bill Skelton mentioned the university’s importance to them for giving them both meaningful professional careers. Since their retirement from professional positions, they wanted to devote their time to advancing Virginia Tech’s work.

Steger then introduced Blacksburg Mayor Roger Hedgepeth, who emphasized the university’s commitment to economic development. He mentioned the boost to the economy that will result from visitors who will come to Blacksburg because of the new larger conference facilities.

Gary Walton, area vice president and general manager for Hilton Hotels, spoke of the effective partnership between the university, Hilton, and the City of Roanoke in the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center and the beginning of a new partnership in “this exciting new facility.” With shared management between the two hotels, he indicated Hilton is looking forward “to providing the same quality of service delivered in our Roanoke operation.”

The ribbon was then cut, and the group moved indoors to watch the Skeltons register as the first guests. Tours of the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center followed.

The inn is booked to capacity for the next four nights as entering freshmen and their families arrive for orientation and enrollees register for the first conference, “The Institute for Leadership in Changing Times,” a six-day training seminar for first line supervisors or middle-managers in law enforcement sponsored by the Virginia Police Chiefs Foundation and arranged by the Pamplin College of Business.

The hotel has 147 guest rooms, including six suites, and 23,705 square feet of flexible meeting space. Guests may choose from two main dining options: Preston’s, a full-service restaurant, and the more informal Continental Divide Lounge. Preston’s features innovative continental and regional cuisine, emphasizing fresh ingredients presented with a distinctive European flair. Two private dining rooms, the 1872 Salon and the Old Guard, are available for smaller groups.