Harbor View sees better weather ahead
The Harbor View Hotel and Resort in Edgartown has navigated safely through the recent economic shoals, and general manager Thad Hyland said this week he is cautiously optimistic about the coming season.
The marquis Island property has completed heavy renovation of its 18 cottage suites and a makeover of the remaining 94 rooms as part of a long-term, $77 million renovation project that began two years ago, he said.
The Harbor View was in the midst of a three-phase renovation project last fall when the economic downturn sunk Lehman Brothers, the hotel's financial partner, and also left providers of high-end goods and services, such as the Harbor View, concerned that tumbling portfolios would also reduce their customer base.
In the intervening period, the hotel has replaced Lehman with a Swedish bank, remained open while completing a cosmetic overhaul of all of its rooms, and revamped its marketing to attract customers for summer, shoulder, and off seasons.
"At some point in the future we will complete hard renovations on the remaining 94 rooms," Mr. Hyland said. "We're taking a break. We asked ourselves what's the best use of our money today to provide a great guest experience right now." The answer was to refit room cosmetics - armoires, LCD TV's, fresh paint and furnishings in every room.
Scout Real Estate Capital, LLC, of Nantucket and New York, N.Y., acquired the Harbor View Hotel and Resort and the Kelley House in December 2006. The company's focus is on developing unique leisure opportunities for sophisticated travelers, according to a company profile at the time.
The focus today is driving the sophisticated traveler's business in a different economic climate, according to Mr. Hyland. "Booking windows are a lot shorter, which indicates people are cautious," he said. "We get seven or eight walk-ins a night; that's pretty much unheard of on the Vineyard. For example, we were down 116 room nights on April 1. We'd made it up by April 16.
"Summer reservations are strong. People who live in the Northeast corridor travel. They want their vacations - probably more than ever these days. But they are not traveling to Europe, so the Cape and Islands become a travel destination this year," he said, noting that reservation trends remain strong.
"We were full last weekend," Mr. Hyland said. "I met some people on the boat who came without reservations so I called around to help them out. The Hob Knob (Inn) was also full, for example. It took a little doing, but we found accommodations for them."
Mr. Hyland said he will not reduce nightly rates in July and August, which range from $385 for a single room to $1,800 for a three-bedroom suite, but he stresses rate and value packages for the shoulder and off-seasons, because doing so worked this past fall, winter, and early spring. "We made budget every month. Now they aren't world-beating budgets but we made them. Interestingly, food and beverage sales this winter were very strong," he said, crediting the success of the lobby bar called Captain Henry's.
"We are not going to have empty rooms," Mr. Hyland said, noting the success the property had this past winter with aggressive prices and packages for groups and a "bailout package" offering three nights for the price of two.
And this year, for the first time, the Newes of the World pub at The Kelley House, an Edgartown sister property, will offer breakfast beginning around Memorial Day. "There's room for it. I've noticed that Dock Street and Among the Flowers have lines until 10:30 in the morning. We'll have a skillet type menu with egg dishes, bangers and pancakes," he said.
The Harbor View is also changing its advertising message to emphasize relaxed comfort. "It's more retro, nostalgic, getting back to basics, relaxing in a familiar place," Mr. Hyland said. "People are seeking comfort in these times, and nothing's more comfortable than watching a Saturday sunset on the Harbor View porch."