The hotel, which replaced the UVA Inn at Darden, features 198 guest rooms and two restaurants: Birch & Bloom, a modern steakhouse, and The Good Sport, a craft beer bar. The structure includes more than 22,000 square feet of gathering and classroom space, including a ballroom, tiered and flat classrooms and small meeting spaces to provide for instruction and gatherings. A six-acre arboretum and botanical garden adds connectivity to North Grounds and Charlottesville.
Alumnus Elie Maalouf, CEO of the Americas for Intercontinental Hotels Group, called the opening a “special and personal milestone” given his personal history and ongoing engagement with the Darden School.
“We’re honored that you’ve entrusted us to bring this stunning property to life,” he said. “I strongly believe that The Forum will become a warm and welcoming place for the entire UVA, Darden and Charlottesville communities.”
The hotel formally opened April 12, with Darden executive MBA students in Charlottesville for a leadership residency serving as the first guests.
The hotel project was fueled by alumnus Frank Sands Sr. and his wife, Marjorie Sands, who in 2019 made a $20 million gift to jumpstart the hotel’s construction. More than 100 donors eventually followed his lead, making the project possible.
The benefactor’s son and fellow alumnus, Frank Sands, who serves as vice chair of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees, spoke about the importance of education and the Darden School to his parents, who he said would have been “thrilled” to see the eventual outcome of their efforts. Frank Sands Sr. died in March 2021, as The Forum was under construction.