Intelligencer Journal / Lancaster New Era
by Tim Mekeel, Business Editor
Kurt Thomas knows the situation.
He sees that interest rates and construction costs are unusually low.
He hears industry experts predict an upturn for the tourism industry.
So Thomas realizes that, if he was ever going to renovate and expand his Intercourse Village Inn, the ideal opportunity is now.
“We just feel like the timing is perfect,” Thomas said.
For all those reasons, the inn this month launched a far-reaching project that will roughly double its size, at a cost exceeding $7 million.
– Remodeling all existing 40 guest rooms while constructing 49 more, including some three-bed suites geared toward families.
– Remodeling the existing 60-seat restaurant while expanding it with 40 more seats.
– Adding an indoor pool, fitness room and meeting space.
The Intercourse Village Inn opened in the mid 1960s at the busy intersection of Route 772 (Newport Road) and Queen Road, near Route 340.
Other than the addition of the restaurant and “some small remodeling jobs” over the years, “it’s pretty much in its original format,” Thomas said.
That will change, he said, as the property gets repositioned in an increasingly competitive industry.
For instance, existing guest rooms will be totally overhauled, Thomas said. Everything from furniture to carpeting to bedding will be replaced.
“We don’t want to just keep up” with what guests expect, he said. “We want to exceed it. So we’re building for the future, to ensure our longevity.”
Janet Wall, vice president of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau, called Thomas’ plans “very exciting” and “very impressive.”
She added, “We always like to see reinvestment, and he’s really doing it in a big way.”
Leacock Township supervisors approved the project as a conditional use in a C-2 commercial district in January.
The action was required for a hotel expansion involving more than 10 rooms, explained Lew Dukeman, township zoning officer.
Financing for the project is coming, in part, from a U.S. Small Business Administration loan, obtained through the EDC Finance Corp.
Weaver Construction is the general contractor for the project, which is set for a June completion.
When finished, the inn’s work force will grow from 40 employees to 55.
Adding space on the corner property is no simple matter — a puzzle that the inn is solving with creativity and luck.
First, the inn is renovating its existing 16,000-square-foot, two-story building.
Beyond that, it’s constructing a three-story, 45,000-square-foot building around the existing building.
That will convert the exterior entrances of the existing rooms into interior entrances, a more contemporary and desirable feature. A little luck helped, too.
The Intercourse Village Inn owns two buildings that were leased for years to the Intercourse Canning Co.
But Intercourse Canning moved its store from one building, a 7,700-square-foot structure that will become the new indoor pool.
And the company moved its production and warehousing out of the second building.
That second building has been razed to provide land for some of the new guest rooms.
The Intercourse Village Inn has been in the Thomas family since 1983, when it was bought by Kurt Thomas’ father, Elmer.
Kurt Thomas became its manager in 1997. He and his wife bought it several years later.
The couple also owns the Inn & Spa at Intercourse Village (a luxury bed and breakfast), the Carriage House Inn in Strasburg and six vacation homes in Intercourse.
These, plus the Intercourse Village Inn, a Best Western Plus property, are marketed under the Amish Country Inns banner.
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