Don’t let that old misperception about the Inn at Ole Miss prevent you from enjoying one of the most comfortable, hospitable, high-value hotel stays you’ll ever experience. That’s a word to the wise from Gaye Bukur, Inn general manager.
Bukur led HottyToddy.com on a tour of the impressive facility and the images are captured here. What’s the biggest myth about the Inn, originally constructed in 1951 and owned by Ole Miss? “People think we’re always sold out and rooms are rarely available,” Bukur said. “We are generally full on home football weekends, but even during football season, Sunday through Wednesday offers great room availability. For the rest of the year, we’re ready and eager to host the public.”
And an early week visit in the crisp, colorful fall splendor of Oxford and The Inn at Ole Miss is a perfect get-away destination. Especially for retirees, adds Bukur, who points out that rooms range from the standard hotel variety to luxury suites. Weddings are another staple for the busy Inn operation.
“We have a room for every budget — $109 to $599,” Bukur said. “And perhaps our greatest value is our location. You’re already on campus when you stay here, so a stroll to the Lyceum or the Grove is always an option. But the square is easily accessible as well. Great shopping, dining and cultural and historical offerings are only steps away.”
If you don’t feel like stepping out, get your exercise at the Inn’s fitness center open 24 hours a day. In the summer, the outdoor pool is inviting, and if you’re hungry, complementary hot breakfast and lunch at the McCormick Café will hit the mark. The inn operates a shuttle service from 5 p.m.-11 p.m. nightly.
Bukur is proud of the Inn’s history, in which the storied structure has hosted thousands of people from all over the world and celebrities like Sela Ward, Shephard Smith and countless Mississippi and national politicians.
But it’s the future that really excites the efficient executive. “All of our rooms are sponsored by Ole Miss alumni and we’re modifying that program to make it more convenient for our sponsors and increase room availability for our guests,” Bukur explained. “We’re busy renovating rooms in the original building — but our new Tower section, built in 2008, has to be seen to be fully appreciated.”
She’s right about that. When one enters the Tower the visitor immediately notices the beautiful stained glass windows. Walking into the 5,600 square-feet ballroom, the observer’s imagination jumps to visions of dignified events, infused with Southern charm, crystal chandeliers and elegantly attired guests. A large board room offers efficient business-like surroundings for conferences and Ole Miss and city meetings.
That attention to detail is the work ethic Bukur imparts to every one of the Inn’s roughly 50 employees. “I tell the staff to always picture that visitor coming to Oxford for the first time with big expectations,” she said, noting that the staff handles about 60 events a month. “I want each guest’s experience here to exceed those expectations. We prepare each room as if there never was anyone in the room before. Details matter, and everyone’s job is important.”
What do the room renovations and Tower addition to the Inn at Ole Miss have in common with a famous baseball movie set in Iowa? Gaye Bukur can tell you: “If you build it, they will come.”
For more information about the Inn at Ole Miss, go to http://www.theinnatolemiss.com/
Andy Knef is managing editor of Hottytoddy.com