ROANOKE, Va. – A local hotel -- containing one of Roanoke’s largest conference spaces -- will close its doors ahead of the new year.
The Blue Ridge Hotel and Conference Center, which was formerly the Sheraton Roanoke, will cease operation on Tuesday, according to the hotel’s parent company, Stonebridge Companies.
Stonebridge announced the sale of the hotel on Monday.
Employees told 10 News they were notified on Saturday.
“Now I’m going to have to figure out how am I going to make ends meet? How am I going to pay my bills and how am I going to take care of my kids?” said Johnny Dixon, who worked in maintenance there for three years.
Local economic development and tourism leaders told 10 News they too only learned about the closure in the past few days.
“It is a little bit of a surprise but not much of one because I knew they were considering other uses and had been looking at that for some time,” said Roanoke Economic Development Director Rob Ledger.
Ledger said he was aware the hotel was having some difficulties with occupancy, but couldn’t go into much detail.
The closure is a blow to the rapidly growing tourism industry, eliminating a sizable hotel and one of the few conference centers in the region.
“We just want to make sure that all of our softball teams and conferences and everyone that was planning to come and stay at the Blue Ridge Hotel has a place to stay and will have a good time when they’re here,” said Landon Howard, president of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Howard said his staff is busy working closely with the hotel to make sure all customers are taken care of. He is hopeful that the market will attract another developer to come in and build a conference space that he said is desperately needed.
All full-time employees will receive severance packages. Any employees who want to relocate to another property with Stonebridge Companies can get relocation assistance, according to the company.