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The Carolina Inn Blog

Welcome to Your Carolina Inn. We wanted to give you a place to share your favorite Carolina Inn memory or experience in Chapel Hill. Read, post, share and become part of the community.

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July 12, 2013 | 10:52 AM

The Carolina Inn Unveils Historically Significant Hotel Renovation in Chapel Hill

Built on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1924, The Carolina Inn’s original concept was “to provide for the special wants and comforts of the University alumni...and University visitors.” Almost a century later, the award-winning property delivers on that mission more than ever.

The AAA Four Diamond Carolina Inn features 185 charming and well-appointed guestrooms including 7 luxury suites and 14,000 sq. feet of unique meeting and event spaces, with an additional 15,000 square feet of outdoor venues.

Historic Chapel Hill Inn

The Carolina Inn has undergone seven major renovations in its storied 89-year history, and each has left its own distinct stamp on the beloved hotel, but in many ways this 4.5-year renovation is the most comprehensive and most exciting. Along with completely remodeling the guestrooms and extensively renovating the function rooms and public areas, much of the Inn’s infrastructure has also been updated.  

 Carolina Inn Renovation

“Aesthetically the renovation has achieved a remarkable balance between the historical elements of the Colonial Revival style, dating to 1924, and contemporary style in fresh paint colors and vibrant, luxurious fabrics,” said Dr. Kenneth Zogry, historian of The Carolina Inn since 1998 and author of The University’s Living Room: A History of The Carolina Inn. “Many of the Inn’s treasured antiques and works of art are featured in new settings that celebrate both the past and the present.”

Hotel renovation Historic Carolina Inn

Added General Manager Jack Schmidt, “The result is that The Carolina Inn is ready to provide everything for the comfort of the 21st century guest, in a unique atmosphere that reflects the rich history of both the hotel and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the nation’s great public universities.”

 Chapel Hill Inn

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Carolina Inn recently won a “Best Practices” Award from the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America Program for its extensive new historical displays, an integral part of the recently completed renovation.

 UNC Hotel

The displays relating to UNC history are the most extensive anywhere on campus. In the public areas these include some 90 student-drawn cartoons from The Daily Tar Heel over the past 70 years, lining the walls of the newly renovated Carolina Crossroads Bar. Throughout the guestroom corridors and lounges are nearly 700 images and brief biographies of noted UNC alumni, faculty, and landmarks.

The attention to detail in the newly renovated Carolina Inn makes it not just a hotel, but truly a destination for travelers, UNC alumni, weddings, meetings and corporate events. 

Hotel renovation Chapel Hill meeting venue

  


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May 20, 2013 | 12:13 PM

Give our Historic College Town a Try for your Next North Carolina Meeting

Although budgets continue to be closely monitored and with minimum flexibility, it’s imperative to think of ideas and unique selling points to assist with closing the deal. While highlighting the wonderful features your property offers, it’s important to sell the location, too.

Chapel Hill, NC’s historic Carolina Inn resides on the oldest state-supported university in the United States – UNC Chapel Hill. Rooted in the traditions and charm of the south, Chapel Hill is home to rich history and exuberance of life with culture, arts and recreational activities. This university town is part of a rich food and wine scene with numerous cultural attractions featuring fine shopping boutiques, art museums and local dining establishments. Chapel Hill also serves as one of the corners to the highly respected Research Triangle Park (RTP) only a 15 drive from the Inn.

The Carolina Inn’s pricing is very competitive for the unique meeting experience provided. Attendees will feel enriched by their unique surroundings, and appreciate the Inn’s fully renovated guestrooms, meeting spaces, and public spaces. In addition, The Carolina Inn’s unmatched meetings expertise and impeccable service standards ensure a successful, stress-free event.

You are invited to stay in the iconic Chapel Hill, NC hotel and enjoy a unique blend of tradition and timeless quality.


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May 01, 2012 | 01:47 PM

Are You Ready for a Culinary Throwdown?

As sales managers, our minds are constantly in motion generating innovative and unique team building ideas. Your phone rings - the meeting and event planner reaches out to you inquiring about what type of exercises at your property have been successful with past groups. The sales manager’s focus is distinctive and energizing activities, whereas the planner’s interests are interaction through fun and friendly competitions. Recently, The Carolina Inn held a successful and scrumptious Shrimp-n-Grits Throwdown. Seven local star chefs from renowned restaurants competed for the title of Shrimp-n-Grits Champion.

A panel of judges included food writers and local industry experts who determined the winner. The object of this culinary event was to engage the local foodie community, bringing everyone together for a great cause (proceeds benefitted TABLE, serving Chapel Hill-Carrboro children at risk for hunger), and to determine which star chef’s shrimp and grits reigned supreme.

So, what does a Shrimp-n-Grits Throwdown have to do with meetings and events - friendly competition. Make your next team building exercise exciting and innovative by incorporating your version of a Throwdown. Divide the group into teams with a minimum of two on each team. What’s the challenge you may ask? A Medicinal Potion Throwdown! Teams will concoct their version of a tasty potion that remedies pain after a long, grueling day. Each team would utilize at least 3 of the same ingredients chosen by the hotel. The challenge is fast and teams are required to think on their feet so, the competition should last no more than 30 minutes. In the end, two judges will sample each “remedy” and based on a predetermined set of criteria, a Medicinal Potion Throwdown winner will be announced.

What type of Throwdown ideas do you have in mind? The bottom line is, just make it fun!  


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June 03, 2011 | 11:23 AM

Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, RTP, The Triangle, Research Triangle Park…How Many Names Can One Place Have?

Before I came to North Carolina I thought of this area as Raleigh. As time and years have taught me, there are as many names for this “part of heaven” as there are types of BBQ!  I'm bringing this up to Meeting and Travel Professionals because, depending on how you search for hotels  or venues in "the Triangle" you might be missing large portions of this area.

In researching this topic I found that originally this region was defined by the three major Universities in the area: Duke University, North Carolina State University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Then in the 1950’s, the Triangle took on new meaning with the creation of Research Triangle Park. Research Triangle Park or RTP is a 7,000 acre Pine Forrest that has now become home to some of the most predominant high-tech research and development companies in the world. To sum it up, RTP is a triangle inside the original triangle, formed by the Universities.

• Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh are each in separate counties. Keep in mind they each have a separate CVB which represents them. 

• Raleigh - Durham International Airport (RDU) is at the center of the Triangle for easy and quick access to all points in this area.

• The Triad is another area of North Carolina which is right next to the Triangle, however, it is comprised of completely different cities.

• Warning! If visiting this area during March Madness, be prepared to pick a side; College Basketball is SERIOUS business around here.

The message of my blog – Don’t be a SQUARE and come meet in The Triangle!


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March 22, 2011 | 04:20 PM

Would You Shave Your Attendees’ Heads At Your Next Conference?

Would you shave your attendees’ heads at your next conference? Learn from Sarah Purcell of AmWINS Group, Inc. why you just might want to consider it!

I had the pleasure of first speaking with Sarah a few months back when I stumbled across a webpage that was talking about a recent event for AmWINS. It is one of those stories that just pulled me in to want to learn more and more about it – to the point where I had to call Sarah to learn more. My hopes are that you will find the enjoyment and inspiration that I did! Please enjoy an interview that I conducted with Sarah, and I dare you not to click on the link at the end of the story to see the photos – it will be impossible for you to resist!

To start at the beginning, I first want to set the scene for you. AmWINS Group, Inc. (“AmWINS”)  is a specialty insurance distribution firm with more than 2,000 employees across the globe. As the company’s event planner, Sarah works on an annual event for AmWINS called the Producer Conference. Imagine a few hundred of their top salespeople all together at a five-star resort to kick off the New Year and instill excitement and camaraderie in the attendees. “Our company is an amalgamation of 25+ acquisitions over the course of ten years,” explained Sarah. “The Producer Conference is a critical time for networking and internal bonding among the employees that have come from so many different companies.”

The next important item you need to know, so that you can appreciate the outcome, is probably the keystone to the entire event – the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research. “St. Baldrick’s is a great organization with roots in the insurance industry. After meeting with the St. Baldrick’s team and learning more about all they do to find a cure for kids’ cancer; it was a perfect fit for us,” explained Sarah when I asked her about how they selected this charity to be part of the event. AmWINS’ had actually officially partnered with St. Baldrick’s in October of 2010, when they used a customer appreciation event to raise more than $10,000 for the Foundation. But they had their sights on bigger fundraising efforts. With a solid start to their relationship with St. Baldrick’s, and the need to integrate the partnership into the agenda for the Producer Conference, the AmWINS team came up with the idea to challenge five of their producers to raise money for St. Baldrick’s. The only catch: whoever raised the most money would shave their head on the final night of the Producer Conference. Not exactly your typical fundraiser.

This was the point in the story where I got really interested… you?

So the challenge had been set to the five “shavees” (as they are now known) to see who could raise the most for St. Baldrick’s. Each shavee had their own fundraising webpage where they could collect donations. AmWINS kept their employees constantly informed on where all the shavees stood in the race, encouraging friendly competition amongst peers and building excitement around the big event. Colleagues of the shavees would conduct their own campaigns to encourage business partners to “vote with their dollars”, and in the two short months before the Producer Conference, the shavees collected an amazing $80,000 between the five of them. 

By the final night of the conference, there was much anticipation around who would be shaving their head and a clear winner had emerged – the one woman in the competition with 15” of hair. The agenda for that night was fairly straightforward - dinner, guest speaker, CEO speech, head shave. But some last-minute logistical changes meant that their guest speaker, a 14-year old cancer survivor, would actually address the crowd as they started dinner. “At the time, I was concerned about changing things so last-minute, but there was so much excitement in the air that we just had to go with it,” explained Sarah. Little did she know that such a minor agenda adjustment would set forth a wave of momentum for the once-in-a-lifetime night. 

After the guest speaker moved the crowd with her amazing tale of survival, AmWINS’ CEO placed a silver bucket on stage and encouraged people to continue to donate throughout the night. Immediately, lines formed around the bucket as conference attendees dropped generous pledges and cash donations into it. “To say we had to think on our feet is an understatement,” said Sarah. Within 90 minutes, more than $103,000 in cash donations and pledges were raised, bringing the two-month fundraising competition total to nearly $200,000 raised for childhood cancer research! The moment they realized what had been accomplished, they decided that “one shave was not enough” and that all five competitors would lose their locks that night. Sarah sums up the emotion from that night, “It was an unbelievable moment that everyone present will never forget. That event, that moment, changed our company.”

I tried to get a feel from Sarah if prior to arriving at the conference she had any indication that this year’s event would be any different from the previous three Producer Conferences she had executed. “I can tell you I had NO idea that final night, when we shaved the winner’s head, would result the way it did. No one could have predicted it and we were all in disbelief of the amazing experience it created,” said Sarah.

Maybe you will think I am crazy for this…but I was dying to know what her post event surveys said! I loved her answer – she said they commented on how proud they were to work for the company. Also, they have seen a real change in the culture at AmWINS after this event. Sounds like magic certainly happened that night for this company!

So I asked Sarah to give one hint to other planners trying something like this.  “I think it’s important for other planners to understand the good in people and that life matters outside of our meetings and events. People want to get involved but sometimes they just don’t know how. So if you give them an organized means to give back, they will be more than happy to participate.”  

Are you like me and dying to see what the 5 “shavees” looked like before and after? Well, here is the link to the AmWINS webpage and read more about the event and see all the fun photos and videos. A big thank you to Sarah for sharing this story with our group and I hope this inspires a discussion of some other similar experiences and maybe even serves as an inspirational tale for planners looking to make a difference!

Click here to see short video clips of all the head-shavings.


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March 01, 2011 | 08:24 AM

Celebrate the Launch of the INFINity Team Blog - A Conversation with Karen Knox, CMP, CMM

Welcome Everyone! Today marks the birth of our INFINity blog – thank you for taking the time to join us and I hope you find value from our team. INFINity Team is short for INsurance and FINance Affinity Team, and is a group of about 20 individuals that focus their efforts on Insurance and Finance Meetings.

My name is Darby Gyscek and I am so lucky to be located at the picturesque Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My time on the INFINity team has been short so far as I just started with Destination Hotels & Resorts this July – but I have really found a warm and welcoming team (which you will soon find out for yourself). Having worked in the industry for almost 13 years I hope to share some of my experiences with you and learn some things too! I grew up in Rochester, NY but spent my high school years in Massachusetts. For the last nine years I have been a vegetarian so I am always happy to help with suggestions for those groups – as I know we are tough to plan for at times.

As you regularly visit our blog you will find great content put together by our team. Today I wanted to share an interview with you of a local Insurance planner that is near and dear to us!

Karen Knox, CMP, CMM is the Senior Corporate Meeting Planner at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and I had the opportunity to sit down with her and have a lovely chat over lunch. I hope you find value in some of the highlights from our discussion.

I often joke that I am the “one person” that actually uses the degree I went to school for in my everyday work, but today I found out that Karen’s degree is also in Hospitality Management. She recounted that fateful day of sitting on the quad flipping through her course catalog and making the decision to go into meeting planning. “This industry gives you so much opportunity” she said as I heard stories of her first positions in the Association and then Incentive markets.

When I asked Karen if she ever found value in reaching out to the event planner community she put the question right back to me “How could you ever do your job in isolation?” She often uses other planners as a sounding board and as a resource. I personally loved hearing that the 8 people that were in her CMP study group 10 years ago are some of her closest sources and friends!

It is not news to anyone reading this blog that there have been major changes in our industry after the financial crisis. I asked Karen to tell me about the advice she would give to others and even herself if she could travel back in time to the beginning of all the change. “Don’t sell yourself short”, Karen said, and went on to list the numerous tasks that planners take on including budgeting, negotiating, administrative, etc. and it is easy to get labeled “just a meeting planner” and start to devalue your true worth.

Essential tips she wanted to share for any planner providing a case for their ROI:

• Expand your knowledge base (don’t allow yourself to be pigeonholed)
• Understand what your roles are and how your skill sets help the company to achieve their goals
• Know what you bring to the table
• Remember the importance of partnering with internal clients – don’t get territorial
• Develop and embrace collaboration

The final tip Karen had for planners was in response to my question on emotions. I had asked her about the emotional process of making the case, and while she noted that yes it can be very emotional to remember, it is all about business “Work is work, but it is not all you are”.


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October 08, 2009 | 10:10 AM

Thank You for a Successful Program!

I would like to thank the staff at The Carolina Inn for all the support that made our Regional Vice President Meeting so successful. I would like to recognize the Front Desk staff who were always helpful when I stormed out with various requests and the Banquet staff (Vincent Scichilone, Micheal Atif, Simon Mendrano, Fernandez Diaz, Pedro Saldana and all the others working behind the scenes). Also, I'd like to thank our Catering Manager, Alison D'Agostino, for developing the program in such a quick and timely manner and assisting us on-site with all the continuous changes as well as printing needs that kept flowing in. Lastly, thank you to the Executive Chef, Jimmy Reale, for coming up with all the 'healthy' choices that we needed to make our attendees happy! Thank-you again for a very successful program!

Erica Potegher
Event Management Consultant
GlaxoSmithKline

September 10, 2009 | 09:14 AM

The Carolina Inn Named "Best of the South 2009" for Meetings

Chapel Hill's historic Carolina Inn made headlines this week when it was named by Meetings South Magazine as "Best of the South 2009" among the 50 hotels and resorts recognized in the trade publication's September issue.  Only four other properties in North Carolina received this recognition.  Click here to view the article by Carolina Newsire.  Click here to read Carolina Business Connection's coverage. 

May 26, 2009 | 10:07 AM

The Carolina Inn always delivers more than is expected!

I want to take a moment to thank you for helping us make our annual employee business meeting a resounding success. Not only did the Carolina Inn graciously host our out-of-town employees, but the All-Employee Dinner on Thursday night was the crown event of the two-day meeting. I have worked with you on a number of events over the years, and the Carolina Inn team has consistently proven their dependability, always delivering more than was expected.

Campbell employees, who travel in for the meeting, look forward to their stay at the Carolina Inn. As seasoned business travelers, most of these people stay at countless hotels over the course of a year. Even among these "road-warriors," the Carolina Inn is recognized as being special. After a day of intense business meetings, the quiet ambiance, elegant decor, and many amenities of the Inn help people shift quickly into a relaxed state of mind, setting the stage for the equally important social portion of the meeting.

The dinner itself was a great success. Allison and the restaurant team excelled at making the planning stage of the dinner easy. The food and wine recommendations were exactly as expected, the dining room looked beautiful, and the dinner service was excellent. Your team did all the work, and I got the compliments!

With the increased need to justify the costs associated with meetings, I can say with conviction that our leadership team made a prudent business decision by allowing us to partner with the Carolina Inn for this meeting. We have high performance standards for our employees, and they consistently deliver for us. Providinq them with a great meal in a memorable environment helps us demonstrate our respect and appreciation for all they do. The Carolina Inn team supports our efforts to provide this reward.

Thank you again for your assistance in delivering another great Campbell event. We look forward to working with you again in the near future.

Regards, Jana Fransen
Senior Manager, Human Resources
Campbell Alliance


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April 29, 2009 | 02:56 PM

Benefits of Booking State College Hotels and Conference Centers - Plan Your Meetings, April 28, 2009

To all meeting and conference planners out there - "If you think you can't afford meetings in this economy, maybe you should give it that old college try. When meeting planners take their meetings and events on campus, they usually get more than they pay for."

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