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Cary Resort Shoots for Luxury 5-Star Status

Posted December 6, 2006

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— A luxury hotel slated to open next month aims to become North Carolina's first five-star resort.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, on the campus of SAS Institute in Cary, has attended to every detail in furnishings, service and food with the five-star rating in mind.

Owner Ann Goodnight, the wife of SAS co-founder and Chief Executive Jim Goodnight, went to a Texas quarry to pick out a particular shade of limestone for the walls. She also commissioned more than 100 pieces of artwork for the hotel.

Rooms, which will cost about $350 a night, measure up to 540 square feet and feature Italian furniture and ceilings of South American wood. Room service trays will have computer chips in them to notify housekeeping when they are placed outside the room to be picked up. The staff is being trained by protocol and etiquette experts from Washington, D.C.

The resort also includes turtle nesting areas, a ballroom for 280 people, upscale spa treatment rooms and soundproof walls to keep away the noise of nearby highway traffic. The cost for the project hasn't been disclosed.

"The whole objective here is to incorporate the art and nature we have in the beautiful surroundings with the actual product inside," said Bob Schofield, the managing director of The Umstead.

Everything at the resort is customized, down to the uniforms for the hotel staff.

"They have taken measurements for every person who has a uniform, and they are now in the process of adjusting to perfection," Schofield said.

The Umstead is the first of five upscale hotels scheduled to open in the Raleigh area by 2009.

The Soleil Center near Crabtree Valley Mall will have a Westin Hotel, a Renaissance hotel is being built at North Hills, a downtown Marriott is under construction next to the new convention center and The Lafayette, a boutique hotel, is slated for the downtown area.

"I think we are trying to make up for missed opportunities through the years," said Martin Armes, the spokesman for the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The five hotels will add more than 1,100 rooms for the market. Proponents maintain the area won't be saturated with rooms because each property will have a different niche.
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