Monmouth Plantation adding to its history

Published 12:51 am Sunday, November 4, 2007

NATCHEZ — Even at a centuries-old house, some change is good.

That’s the theory behind Monmouth Plantation’s recent updates — an expanded and refurbished meeting room and the transformation of parlors into dining rooms.

The meeting room on the hotel grounds received a large patio a little more than a year ago, providing more space. The kitchen was remodeled and expanded.

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These days, carpenters are measuring wall space for new large, gilded mirrors. Soon, the slightly faded carpet will be replaced with a lush new one. Fresh paint on the ceiling is also on the to-do list.

Lani Riches, who, along with her husband Ron, owns Monmouth, said it’s important to keep facilities up-to-date.

“We want people when they come here to experience another world, like they’ve escaped,” Riches said. “We want them to come back and it be more beautiful every time.”

The meeting room is used for everything from business meetings to wedding receptions.

Another change the hotel is making is to turn two downstairs parlors into dining rooms.

Currently, hotel guests are invited to a five-course dinner at 7:30 nightly. But the Riches wanted to make dining more flexible and invite the public.

So, while guests may keep the current dining schedule, they’ll also be able to make reservations and order what they like.

The parlors will keep their rich décor for added ambiance.

“We want to be the most elegant restaurant in Natchez, for special events or just a fun night out,” Ron Riches said.

The hotel recently remodeled a number of their bathrooms, incorporating marble and granite surfaces and new fixtures.

To keep a small hotel successful, things must constantly be examined and added.

One of the couple’s dreams is to build a spa on the estate’s grounds to add to Monmouth’s draw.

Lani Riches said they’d like to see it nestled in among the trees in a wooded area a little way from the house.

“We want it to be so tranquil and gorgeous,” she said. “We feel it would be wonderful, not just for guests but for our local people, too.”

A full spa would make the hotel even more of a destination, she said.

Ron Riches said he hopes to see the spa finished by the end of 2008.

Change for the better keeps business alive, Ron Riches said.

“You have to keep going if you want to keep doing good business,” Ron Riches said. “We’re constantly upgrading and renovating.”