Mills House changes brands after 30 years

  • Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013 12:01 a.m.
They're going to need a new sign at The Mills House Hotel come March 1. (Wade Spees/Staff/File) Buy this photo

A new management company — and a revised identity — are in store for one city’s oldest and best-known lodgings.

The Mills House Hotel at 115 Meeting St. will change its brand and management company after 30 years on March 1.

The name will slightly change as well, according to Tripp Hays, director of sales for the Mills House. The new name will be Mills House a Wyndham Grand Hotel.

The upscale hotel has operated under the Holiday Inn brand and been managed by InterContinental Hotels Group since 1983. It will convert to a Wyndham Grand Hotel and be managed by Wyndham Hotel Group.

Hays said the owners decided the Wyndham Grand brand is more reflective of the Mills House and would help attract more customers.

“We were the only AAA Four Diamond-rated Holiday Inn in the U.S.,” he said.

The hotel dates back to 1853, when it was opened by entrepreneur Otis Mills. It survived a fire in 1939 and underwent a complete renovation in 1970.

Many people in Charleston and visitors alike have a story tied to the property, which Hays said has been the site of 2,325 wedding receptions since 1970.

“We often speak with guests who spent their honeymoon here in the 1940s and 1950s,” he said.

Wet storage


A Napa Valley winery with local ties is giving a new meaning to the term “wet bar” by embarking on an intriguing taste test this week.

Mira Winery said plans to become the first American winery to experiment with ocean aging by submerging four cases of its 2009 cabernet sauvignon in specially designed cages in Charleston Harbor. The goal is to understand the difference between wine aged on the ocean floor versus wine aged in the warehouse.

A dive team is schedules to leave from the Charleston Maritime Center at 10 a.m. Wednesday to place the cases. They will remain there for three months. Afterward, the wine will be tested and tasted with bottles of the same vintage stored in similar conditions above ground.

The president of St. Helena, Calif.-based Mira Winery is political consultant Jim Dyke Jr., who lives in Charleston.

Mira Winery said several European wineries have experimented with aging and storing wine in the ocean, though it believes its project is the first of its kind in the United States.

“The ocean has similar ideal elements that impact aging — temperature, pressure, humidity, pressure motion, light — or lack thereof — and oxygen,” Gustavo Gonzalez, Mira Winery’s winemaker, said in the statement. “Is there something just as impactful and interesting in aquaoir as there is about terroir? We are going to try and find out.”

Hospital-ity deal


Roper Hospital is clearing the air about its hotel ambitions.

The health care provider has no plans to jump into the development business. Instead, it’s looking at partnering with a company that’s willing to build a hotel on property Roper owns across from its downtown Charleston medical center.

“We would like to contribute the land in exchange for an ownership percentage of the project,” CEO David Dunlap said in a statement Thursday to employees and board members. “Our primary interest is to have access to convenient parking that would be available to us if the project does indeed become a reality.”

He also said Roper is in talks with an unidentified construction company.

The Post and Courier reported the deal earlier last week. At that time, Roper released scant details about it plans.

Roper has submitted plans to the city showing a six-story boutique hotel of up to 150 rooms and a parking deck on property it owns at 325 Calhoun St.

It is asking the city for a zoning change that would allow a hotel on the site. The parcel at Fourth and Calhoun streets now is occupied by administrative offices and other uses. The Planning Commission will take up the request at 5 p.m. Wednesday at 75 Calhoun St.

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