When The Wilbur Hotel in downtown Lititz opens its doors for the first time on Saturday, its guests will enter a place that celebrates its heritage but isn’t stuck in the past.
The 74-room luxury hotel — the centerpiece of the former Wilbur Chocolate factory’s redevelopment — features exposed century-old brick and beams throughout, the “skin” and “bones” from its prior life.
Pieces of production equipment decorate the courtyard entrance. A rotating array of archival photos is projected onto a lobby wall. Framed artwork showcases old photos, ads and posters.
But guests won’t feel like they’re staying in a museum.
Quite the contrary.
The Wilbur Hotel — one of Hilton’s Tapestry line of customized boutique hotels — has an abundance of upscale amenities and touches, starting with a faint aroma of chocolate wafting through the lobby.
“I don’t think this hotel is going to disappoint anyone who stays here,” said Mike O’Brien, president of Oak Tree Development, the Lancaster-based firm revitalizing the 11-acre Wilbur Chocolate property.
Having a Tapestry franchise, said O’Brien, “allowed us to bring a unique hotel to Lititz,” in keeping with the character of the town.
Spacious, well-appointed guest rooms and suites feature HDTV, free Wi-Fi, two custom blends of coffee produced by Lititz’s own Whiff Roasters and bathrooms stocked with Molton Brown personal care products.
The hotel also has a deluxe fitness center, a business center, two meeting rooms, dedicated parking and an adjoining bistro and food hall.
Room rates at the 50 N. Broad St. hotel, next to Lititz Springs Park, will begin at $189 per night.
Oak Tree partner Ian Ruzow credited Philadelphia-based interior design studio Floss Barber for creating the hotel’s distinctive, eye-catching look. Wohlsen Construction was the general contractor.
The five-floor hotel, costing more than $15 million and creating about 35 jobs, is the second piece of the site’s sweeping redevelopment to be completed — sizable steps toward revitalizing the once dreary, empty complex.
The six-vendor food hall, dubbed Market At The Wilbur, debuted Aug. 29. The 150-seat bistro, Blackworth Live Fire Grill, will open to the public next week. Twenty-five condominiums, all of them sold, will be finished throughout this fall.
Also this fall, construction will begin of more than 200 apartments — 34 independent-living units for seniors, offered through Pleasant View Communities, and 170 market-rate units for the general public.
The apartments will be ready for occupancy beginning in late summer 2020.
All told, the entire redevelopment project is expected to cost more than $60 million, O’Brien said.
Wilbur Chocolate had operated on that site from 1902 until January 2016, when its owner, Cargill, closed the factory, saying it was inefficient. That decision idled about 100 employees.
Oak Tree announced in May 2017 that it had agreed to buy the site from Cargill and planned to redevelop it with a mix of uses, including a boutique hotel, restaurant and housing.