Home Sweet Homestead: Renovating the Omni Homestead Resort

Renovating the Omni Homestead Resort came with some unique challenges for HITT Contracting. The biggest one: America’s oldest resort is actually older than America itself.
By David McMillin
March 21, 2024

As HITT Contracting’s senior vice president for the hospitality sector, Peter Lanfranchi has worked on just about every type of hotel—from high-quality luxury properties with heavy millwork to limited-service accommodations with tight deadlines. With all those spectacular projects under his belt, there’s still one that stands out: the $140-million renovation of the historic, 2,300-acre Omni Homestead Resort, tucked away in Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, near the border with West Virginia, which Lanfranchi calls a “once-in-a-career opportunity.”

“The Homestead was a hotel 10 years before we were a country,” Lanfranchi says of the 258-year-old resort. “‘Iconic’ really summarizes the property. It’s just steeped in tradition. A lot of the guests I spoke to have been going there for generations.”

But that rich sense of history can also lead directly to the kinds of frozen-in-time problems that HITT’s hospitality construction team encountered throughout the 17-month project, which wrapped up in October 2023. “It seemed like every piece we touched and every hole we cut revealed a new surprise,” Lanfranchi says. “We needed to have the right knowledgeable site leaders and subcontractors to be able to deal with delicate issues like wood framing from the 1800s and stabilizing and supporting the structure to modernize the hotel’s mechanical systems.”


Mark Spadoni, the Homestead’s managing director, describes the project as “the most significant investment in this resort in more than 100 years.” From renovating all 483 guest rooms to overhauling 72,000 square feet of meeting space with refinished wood floors, new carpeting, ceiling tiles, wall coverings and light fixtures, the work touched every inch of the property.

HITT broke the project into multiple phases to allow the hotel to continue welcoming guests throughout construction. One area, however, hadn’t been occupied by visitors for a number of years. The Homestead’s west wing, which includes 88 rooms, had been closed due to significant structural concerns. “The property runs off steam, and the main steam lines ran underneath the west wing,” Lanfranchi says. “They had started to leak due to years of deterioration, and all the moisture was causing structural concerns.”

Moisture wasn’t the only issue. The steam lines were wrapped in hazardous materials, and the confined space necessitated additional safety protocols during abatement work and repairs. All in all, the west wing renovation took about five months, and it was the first part of the project to be delivered back to the property. From there, HITT’s crews—which involved anywhere between 75 and 250 workers at a time—moved on to the east wing, the tower and the garden wing.

“We had a strategy on how to move through the various spaces to confine our presence and minimize impacts to the guest experience,” Lanfranchi says. “We met with the property-operations team every morning to deal with any issues that may have impacted their operations.”


In addition to managing the condition of the property and the flow of guests, the Homestead’s location served as another X factor for the project. “It’s not like other hotels that we work on where we might be in an urban setting,” Lanfranchi said. “It’s up a mountain, an hour from the closest highway. That setting helps add to its grandeur, but that kind of remoteness takes special care and timing.

“When we started, we took over the Regency Ballroom [one of the property’s event venues] and created a warehouse to store all our materials and give our subcontractors field offices. It really was instrumental in us being able to get the materials there and have them onsite when we needed them.”

While the remote point on the map created challenges, it also gave Lanfranchi’s team an opportunity to leverage construction technology instead of making a constant three-and-a-half-hour commute from the Washington, D.C., area, where HITT is headquartered. Superintendents working at the Homestead used OpenSpace—a program that captures 360-degree images of the jobsite daily—to help leaders back at HITT’s offices see the environment from anywhere.

“As soon as they finished walking the site, the AI did its magic, sent us a link and let everyone on the design and ownership team virtually walk the space,” Lanfranchi says. “That technology has been instrumental in our ability to manage, run and solve problems on our jobs.”

While technology played a big role in the project, the key ingredient of success didn’t involve augmented reality, mobile applications or any other digital tool. “We don’t do this in a vacuum,” Lanfranchi says. “This kind of property delivery is nothing but teamwork and coordination.

“Everyone here—hotel ownership, the property operations team, subcontractors and designers—just did a fantastic job and exemplified teamwork,” he continues. “Whenever there was a challenge, the attitude was simple: Let’s roll up our sleeves and figure it out. It’s one of those projects where I look back and think, ‘What a tremendous bunch of people who made this happen.’”

by David McMillin

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