In Charleston, the prospect of a revamped boutique hotel isn't a novel concept.
But it's not as common a roughly two-hour drive away in Florence, where much of the overnight traffic comes from road-weary travelers pulling off I-95 for the night.
After a recent renovation, the Pee Dee city now boasts a hotel that's just been added to Hilton Hotels' Tapestry Collection for independently branded, upscale lodgings: Hotel Florence, in the historic downtown area.
Raines, formerly Raines Hospitality, is a Florence-based company with multiple hotels in the Charleston area. It's owned Hotel Florence since 2013 and started overhauling the property last October.
Guestrooms were renovated with bathroom upgrades, new furniture, paint and carpet and fresh artwork. Victors, the on-site restaurant, was upfitted with new seating, a renovated bar and a new color scheme.
Hotel Florence "headlines" the launch of a new division for Raines, according to an announcement from the firm. "Woven by Raines" will focus on boutique accommodations with "top-tier food and beverage programming."
One other Raines property, the Foundry Hotel in Asheville, is under the Woven umbrella.
The division is part of a "rebrand" for Raines. The changes include an updated website and the launch of another new business affiliate called Array that focuses on commercial real estate projects, such as a Mount Pleasant office building being developed among a cluster of hotels on Wingo Way.
Also, the privately held company dropped "hospitality" from its official corporate moniker.
Raines operates 19 hotels. Six are in the Charleston region, including three that came online over the past few years. The newest is a Cambria-flagged property in the growing Nexton master-planned community in Summerville. It was completed in early 2020.
Raines also operates a Cambria in Mount Pleasant that opened in mid-2018 and a Hyatt Place hotel that started welcoming guests at Mount Pleasant Towne Centre in 2019.
Hotel Florence is the only boutique property Raines holds in the Palmetto State. Its other lodgings in Florence are affiliated with national flags like Courtyard by Marriott and Comfort Inn & Suites or a downtown Hyatt Place hotel that the firm opened about two years ago.
In addition to its 64 guest rooms and restaurant and bar, Hotel Florence has about 2,900 square feet of event space and a full-service spa.
Spring break bust?
Spring break — the first major travel period of the year — might not be bringing the boost that tourism officials hoped for this year, according to new polling data presented by the U.S. Travel Association last week.
Just one in eight Americans is planning a spring break vacation this year, per the results of a survey released March 4 by Destination Analysts. And, despite progress with COVID-19 vaccines, confidence among travelers may actually be decreasing. That figure was down from about 16 percent who said the week prior that they would take a spring break trip.
Of those who did say they plan to travel, the most popular reason why was to "relax and escape stress," followed by spending time with family.
U.S. Travel rolled out an updated version of its "Travel in the New Normal," guidelines, putting strong emphasis on the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
A "true travel comeback" can only happen "once the pandemic is decisively behind us," U.S. Travel president Roger Dow said in a statement, and the "important part to play" for everyone is to get vaccinated and remain vigilant about mask-wearing.