A Denver-based hospitality company is looking to buy and expand a landmark Berkshire County resort once owned by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
The Miraval Group expects to close on the sale of the Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort in the next few months pending town approvals. Currently owned by CampGroup, LLC the 380-acre property includes a 105-room resort, restaurants, a spa and the 18-hole golf course.
“It’s a wonderful site,” said Chevis Hosea, vice president of development for Miraval Group. “It’s got good buildings on it that are a bit tired. We need to bring those back up to the standard that would be Miraval standard as well as complete the previously approved plan that was put in place for the property.”
CampGroup bought the resort about a year ago for $18 million from the Burack family, who had owned it since 1993. Miraval plans to update existing and build new spa facilities, create a new working organic farm for guests and visitors and protect the historic Beecher Cottage.
“We will deploy tens of millions of dollars into bringing Cranwell back to the status it deserves,” Hosea said. “Renovating pretty much every building on the property, preserving the mansion, protecting Beecher’s [Cottage], as well as introducing all the new buildings. It’s a significant investment, but it will be one that the property is worthy of.
As already approved by the town, the company plans to add to the current room capacity, eventually reaching 148. The permits are before Lenox’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Selectman Channing Gibson says the Select Board won’t be ruling on any permits, but adds he is excited by the project.
“According to the Berkshire Visitors Bureau about 40 percent of the tourist dollars that are spent in the Berkshires are spent in Lenox,” Gibson said. “So this is one addition to this quilt of hospitality services that Lenox offers.”
Hosea says the expansion of what would become Miraval-Lenox could take 18 months to two years once construction starts.
“We do intend to keep the resort open as we go through redevelopment,” Hosea said. “We may not have all the room product open. We’ll cycle through the rooms trying to keep as many of the rooms open. Trying to keep spa and fitness open until the new spa and fitness are complete. So there will be adjustments and management of the staffing so that we have the right staffing there for how much of the property is built and operating. But the goal is to preserve the staffing that’s in place there and we’re adding a significant number of additional jobs to the property.”
As of July 2015, Cranwell employed 120 people full-time, and 180 part-timers. With a flagship property in Tucson, Arizona, the venture is Miraval’s first in the Northeast.
“When you look at the beauty and history of the Cranwell property, the size, the logistics of it and you bring the Miraval experiences to that property it just seems like a perfect fit,” Hosea said. “Lenox, Massachusetts is one of the wellness destinations in the country so we’d like to bring the Miraval brand to that community.”
The estate was founded in 1853 by the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, who left it to his sister. The author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin” sold it in 1869.