Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Parker Slaybaugh
Lynchburg, VA - Wingate by Wyndham wants guests and employees at ease. The Candlers Mountain Road site will continue to operate as a hotel - at least for the foreseeable future after Liberty University bought it Thursday.
The hotel didn't come cheap. LU bought it for $9.2 million at auction. Chancellor Jerry Falwell Junior tells ABC 13 this is an investment for LU. But, he wants employees to know the hotel operation will continue, even with LU at the helm.
The Wingate By Wyndham has a new owner. And General Manager Sue Spencer handed over the keys.
"The official building and everything in it is now in the hands of Liberty University," said Spencer.
Neal Askew represented LU at the auction.
"It's been a very successful hotel, and we are excited about the opportunity to own it," said Askew, Executive VP, LU.
LU will now own the site, with its mountain top view, for the second time. In the 1990s, the four acres the hotel sits on was LU's land. But, more than a decade ago, times were sometimes tight for LU. The university sold it to help make ends meet. Now, the university is getting the land, and the hotel, back.
"It sits in the middle of our campus. It's a key part and attachment. And so we are excited about it. We think it can run as a lodging facility well into the future," said Askew.
Dave Francis doesn't share LU's excitement. He is general manager at a nearby hotel. And wanted the Wingate for himself, but LU out bid him.
"With their resources, I think they would have been willing to pay more than it was really worth," said Francis.
The buy was an 11th hour decision for LU, and one the Wingate says will not change their customer service.
"We'll get a different paycheck from somebody different, but we're still a great team here," said Spencer.
In the immediate future, the Wingate will stay a hotel. But, the Chancellor has not ruled out turning the hotel into LU dorms someday.