About 35 business leaders, government officials and hotel representatives gathered Friday morning to celebrate Culpeper County’s newest hotel with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Prominently located beside U.S. 29 just southeast of town, the Hampton Inn—a four-story, $11.5 million Hilton property—has been welcoming guests since mid-April.

“We finally had everything organized the way we wanted with the landscaping and flowers, and meeting town leadership and businesses,” hotel manager Patricia Derflinger said in an interview during the event. “It just took us a while to feel like we were ready.”

After Sunset Hotel Group of Edgewood, Md., purchased the property in 2015, it began construction in 2017, said Lee Keller, the group’s chief operating officer. Along with its new Culpeper Hampton, the Sunset Group owns another 11 hotel properties in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“A friend told us about the opportunity in Culpeper in 2014,” Keller said an interview. “There hasn’t been a new hotel built here in 15 years. Some people thought we were crazy to build here, but I think we’ve proved them wrong.”

Speaking to the assembled crowd, Culpeper Director of Economic Development and Tourism Paige Read said local officials are pleased to have worked with the owners to open the new facility. It already has begun to boost visitation to this scenic and historic part of the Virginia Piedmont, she said.

“Last year, Culpeper generated $44.5 million in domestic visitor spending, an increase of 4.3 percent from the year before,” Read said. “Having a wonderful place like this for visitors to stay, along with our already-existing Culpeper properties, encourages people to come here and do business.”

Culpeper Mayor Mike Olinger, with several members of the Town Council and other city and county representatives, joined the hotel owners and employees in cutting a bright red ribbon to officially celebrate the Hampton Inn’s opening. Other business leaders and friends in attendance applauded and cheered.

Derflinger said bookings at the hotel are very healthy. She noted that this weekend, the Hampton will be hosting wedding parties from London and Sydney, Australia.

“We’ve been meeting with local business owners and extending local rates, which many have already started taking advantage of,” Derflinger said. “We’ve connected with the Chamber of Commerce and we recently met with the folks up at the Packard Campus of the Library of Congress.”

Sunset Hotel Group Chief Executive Officer King Patel and Chief Financial Officer Dan Patel, both present at Friday’s ceremony, expressed their enthusiasm for the company’s new endeavor in Culpeper.

“Culpeper is a beautiful town,” Dan Patel said. “It’s growing, with many things to do.”

Business has been so good, in fact, Kellar said Sunset already has another new hotel in the planning stages, not too far away.

“We plan to build another Hilton property, a Home2 Suites, on Route 28 in Bealeton,” Kellar said. “We’ve already got the land, and approval from Hilton. Next, we’ll be looking for local contractors.”

Pastries for Thursday’s event were provided by Knakal’s Bakery, and a full Hampton breakfast was available for all who attended. Hotel employee Lea Eilers designed the fruit tray, as well as lovely fall flower arrangements that decorated the foyer.

“We’re working on ways to get involved in the community,” Derflinger said. “For example, we’re trying to arrange for special-education students to come and get some life work experience, to learn how to vacuum and other housekeeping work.”

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