MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- The Greenbrier will have its first new president in nearly 20 years when Ted J. Kleisner retires this month, passing stewardship of the 228-year-old White Sulphur Springs resort to a man charged with keeping it relevant for the next generation of luxury travelers.
Paul Ratchford is leaving California's Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay to guide The Greenbrier through a 50 million renovation this winter.
The resort has won the AAA Five Diamond Award each year since the award's inception in 1976. It is AAA's highest possible rating and a nod to the resort's luxurious nature and wide range of amenities.
The Greenbrier has hosted presidents and royalty, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who once admitted to Kleisner that he knew of the existence of the nuclear fallout shelter built on the premises in the late '50s to house the members of Congress.
Kleisner said Gorbachev assured him The Greenbrier was never targeted.
The 802-room resort is closing from Jan. 2 to April 2 for its makeover, the most extensive renovation since the mid-1940s.
Kleisner said the renovations include a "world music cocktail bar" and a new restaurant called Hemispheres, both of which will have "a very different style than has been seen at The Greenbrier."
About 65 guest rooms in the 93-year-old center section of the main building will also be renovated, with new furniture and new marble bathrooms that feature telephones.
Such missing amenities were cited by Mobil in 2000 when it stripped the resort of its five-star rating, a distinction The Greenbrier had held for 38 years.