Gary Jensen looks forward to finally being a guest at the longtime North Carolina mountain resort he just sold for $15.65 million.
Three generations of his family have run the 70-room Switzerland Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland since the 1980s, he told The Charlotte Observer on Saturday.
Little Switzerland is perched 3,500 feet in the mountains of Mitchell and McDowell counties, 113 miles northwest of Charlotte.
Now 57, Jensen said he was ready to trade the daily demands of the inn for its relaxing views of Linville Gorge and other parts of the mountains.
The sale confirmed that “demand for leisure-driven hotels is still conditionally very strong,” Robert Hunter of Marcus & Millichap said in a news release.
Hunter was one of two investment specialists in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office who exclusively marketed the 14-acre property.
Two nearby homes, each with three bedrooms, were included in the sale.
Thanks to its “physical appeal” and other factors, Switzerland Inn’s value was roughly 50% higher than expected pre-COVID-19, he said.
“Its location in the mountains also provided a buffer against inflated insurance premiums that have impacted leisure properties in coastal markets,” Hunter said.
New owner’s plans for the inn
Jensen described MMI Hospitality as “a great fit” for Switzerland Inn, which he said continues to be “a thriving business.”
The inn is closed for winter and plans to reopen on April 17, according to Switzerland Inn.com.
MMI Hospitality also is a third-generation family business, he said.
And Jensen knew from the day he met its owner, 45-year-old Micajah Sturdivant, that the inn and its 84 employees would be in good hands, he said.
Fifteen workers have been with the inn for decades, “and we have a lot of 10-year employees,” Jensen said.
MMI and its affiliated MMI Hotel Group operate numerous properties, including the 356-acre Fontana Village Resort & Marina in Fontana Dam, N.C., in the Smoky Mountains.
On Saturday, Sturdivant told the Observer his company “plans to carry forward ideas that Gary had for the property,” from adding more fire pits to enhancing “an amazing vista” that has lots of green space.
Plans include more landscape architecture, Jensen said.
Jensen is originally from Jacksonville, Florida, graduated from Appalachian State University in Boone and now lives with his wife in Vero Beach, Florida, he said.
But Switzerland Inn will never be too far away, he said.
One of his three daughters, Jordan Gowan, and her husband, Nathan Gowan, plan to continue working at the inn through the ownership transition, he said.
In September, the inn will host the wedding of his youngest daughter, 27-year-old Jaie, he said.
For once, he said of returning to the property, “I’m going to be a guest.”
Help for Switzerland Inn worker
Jensen started a GoFundMe on Friday for the family of Switzerland Inn employee Fernando Flores after their home was destroyed by fire.
Fernando Flores was at work at the time, and the rest of the family was at their oldest child Fernando Jr.’s Mitchell High basketball game in Sylva.
“Due to this unforeseen tragedy, they have no belongings to their name and urgently need our help,” Jensen wrote on the site. “We hope you will join us in supporting the Flores family as they rebuild their lives.”