Mills House to change brand, management after 30 years

The Mills House. Source:
The Mills House. Source:

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After 30 years under one roof, a Charleston landmark will be changing management companies and brands on March 1. The Mills House will be leaving Intercontinental Hotels Group and it's affiliation with Holiday Inn in favor of joining the Wyndham Grand Hotel chain.

Not much will change on the exterior of the building on March 1. The only visible change will be the name of the awning of the hotel and it's name. The downtown hotel will soon be referred to as Mills House a Wyndham Grand Hotel.

Tripp Hays, Director of Sales for the Mills House, says the new ownership will help the hotel "move forward with an upscale brand."

Renovations on all of the 217 guest rooms will take place after the spring season. Hays says all of the rooms will be stripped to the bare walls and completely re-done.

"It's like opening a new property," said Hays. "It's very exciting."

Hays says the renovations will only impact the interior of the building, no work will be done on the outside. He estimates it will take four months to finish the work. Contractors are planning on working on groups of rooms at a time so the hotel can still remain open to visitors.

The director of sales says the hotel's lobby and furnishings will stay intact during the renovations and the "feel" of the hotel will remain the same.

The Mills House was operated as a Holiday Inn property since 1983. The change will afford the hotel a "boutique experience" to rival big Charleston hotels like the Planter's Inn, Charleston Place and the Renaissance.

Hays says this is Wyndham's first dip in Charleston and is one of their first ventures into South Carolina. The Mills House will become the 24th Wyndham Grand Hotel in the World.

As apart of the Intercontinental Hotel Group, the Mills House was the only Triple-A rated, four diamond Holiday Inn hotel.

"Holiday Inn is a great brand," said Hays. "But it just didn't tie in well to what we wanted to accomplish."

The Mills House first opened in 1853 and was the first public building with running water in Charleston. The hotel was used as a field headquarters for General Robert E. Lee in 1861 during the Civil War.

After the Civil War the hotel fell into steady decline and sometimes had to settle for renting out for hours instead of nights.

In the 1950s the Mills House closed and didn't re-open until the 70's. During that time, Hays says it was briefly used to house students attending Baptist College, which is now Charleston Southern University.

Hays says he does not expect anyone from the staff at the Mills House to lose their positions and the new venture with Wyndham may actually open up opportunities.

For the time being Hays says visitors will not be able to reserve rooms for the hotel online while the switch is being made. The Mills House will become apart of the Wyndham Grand Hotel family on March 1.