The Windsor Hotel, built in 1892, is now a Best Western Plus hotel and keeps its Historic Hotels of America status by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
AMERICUS -- The Windsor Hotel opened in Americus in 1892 with all the glorious finery of the Victorian age. Named for city resident and hotel investor John T. Windsor, the grand establishment was built to attract wealthy northerners and has played host to such notables as William Jennings Bryan, boxer John L. Sullivan and former President Jimmy Carter.
The hotel has undergone a recent overhaul and presents a historically accurate experience of lavish Victorian hospitality, said owner Sharad Patel. Joining with the Best Western chain of hotels has been a help as well.
"We did our homework," Patel said. "The hospitality industry has changed in the last few years. It's more website-oriented now, and there are other considerations. We knew we had to restore the Windsor accurately, and we knew we had to brand it."
Patel said a number of hotel "names" were interested, notably the Sheraton group. Best Western was the only brand willing to allow the Windsor name to remain and to promote the unique attractions offered by the palatial hotel.
According to Patel, he was given the choice of listing the Windsor as a Best Western "regular," "plus" or "premium" hotel. Although Patel felt that in terms of unique amenities and service the premium rating was justified, he chose the plus rating instead.
"We wanted to attract affluent guests from all over," Patel said, "and we do. But we had to consider the smaller, more limited, local market. When someone sees the premium rating attached to the Windsor, they think it will cost a fortune to come here, and that's not true."
Patel said that he and his team, including Marketing Director Divya Patel, have gone to great lengths to ensure the luxury and accuracy of the Victorian period.
"We're not a cookie-cutter hotel," Patel said. "Each room is different -- even the guest rooms. There are high ceilings and plantation shutters. Everything in the hotel is either an antique or an authentic reproduction. Of course, that doesn't include the phones, the flat-screen televisions or the high-speed Internet."
Patel said the original door jambs, made from now-unavailable heart pine, were removed and taken to Yenni and Sons Woodworking in Albany.
"They stripped the heart pine and brought the wood back to life. To experience the end product was rewarding," Patel said.
The exterior sign, which identifies the Windsor, is made of wood and is designed to complement the character of the hotel.
"It's not a Best Western blue neon box," Patel said. "It's very nice, and we had to be approved by the Georgia Historical Commission."
The renovation, which Patel calls "extensive," includes the restaurant, named "Amelia's" for the wife of original hotel owner John Windsor, Rosalynn's Tea Parlor, named for Rosalynn Carter, and Floyd's Pub, named in honor of Floyd Lowery. According to Patel, Lowery was an African-American "teetotaler" who worked 40 years at the Windsor.