Heading north: Gurney’s in RI

MONTAUK, NY—Gurney’s is a brand familiar to many Long Islanders; in fact, it’s practically an East End staple. The brand has now ventured away from its roots, moving north to Rhode Island—Newport, specifically. One of the brand’s owners hinted at additional expansion plans, somewhere colder.

“Gurney’s is more than a place to sleep—it’s a lifestyle encompassing the best food, wellness, programming and entertainment,” said George Filopoulos, owner of Gurney’s Resorts. “Our resorts offer something completely different from any other property in their respective destinations. Gurney’s strives to deliver these experiences no matter what time of year or season. We’ve really been able to create a brand with no off season.”

Developed in 2013, the Gurney’s brand began after Filopoulos bought Gurney’s Inn, which had been around for nearly 90 years, with Lloyd Goldman of BLDG Management Co. After purchasing the property, the duo decided to proceed with a multi-year renovation, which included an overhaul of the guestrooms, the hiring of top-level management personnel, and a redesign of the lobby and entryway. The property also brokered an F&B partnership with LDV Hospitality, a restaurant group based in New York City.

“These updates, coupled with the 30,000-sq.-ft. spa boasting the country’s only ocean-fed seawater pool, and a slew of year-round programming, make Gurney’s a true resort destination,” he said.

Earlier this year, along with affiliates of Square Mile Capital Management LLC, Gurney’s purchased the Hyatt Regency on Goat Island in Newport, RI.  “The vision for that property is similar to that of Montauk,” he said. “This summer, we led an $18-million transition of the property with 257 new guestrooms and public spaces, four new F&B venues from LDV Hospitality, an expanded marina, and programming in fashion, wellness and entertainment.” Surrounded by Narragansett Bay, the property, now called Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina, will be completely renovated by spring.

“We’ll use the fall and winter to make some minor changes,” he said.

Gurney’s expects Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina to be fully renovated by spring 2018.

Gurney’s found opportunity after examining the Newport market. “More than 3.5 million people visit Newport every year, and there are only 1,400 hotel rooms,” Filopoulos said. “If you add Airbnb, there are still only a total of approximately 2,000 rooms with very high barriers to entry for new product.” The numbers added up, and that’s what ultimately mattered.

In this particular case, it also helps that there’s a personal connection to The Ocean State. “In addition to those statistics, my wife and I had been going to Newport for years and fell in love with the destination,” he noted.

The property’s amenities include an activities director, also known as the property’s director of fun, whose job it is to ensure guests have a good time; indoor and outdoor pools; a 24-hour gym; and a seawater spa surrounded by the sea. Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina has more than 50,000 sq. ft. of seaside outdoor space and 27,000 sq. ft. of indoor venues.

“There is nothing like Gurney’s in Newport,” Filopoulos said. “It’s set on 10 acres surrounded by the Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor. It’s the only four-season resort in Newport and offers exceptional programming, including a Kids Club, weekly live music and a top-notch culinary experience.” Along with 257 new guestrooms, the waterfront resort offers a new F&B program, crafted by LDV Hospitality.

The property’s F&B outlets include Scarpetta, designed to deliver updated classics (signature handmade pastas are available); Corso Coffee, an Italian-style coffee bar with a grab-and-go menu; The Regent Lounge, the resort’s cocktail lounge with indoor seating and an outdoor three-level deck (there are also 11 fire pits); and The Pineapple Club, which has poolside cabanas and an outdoor restaurant and bar.

“The Gurney’s brand is steadily expanding and becoming synonymous with classic coastal destinations,” he said. “We find locations that we love and properties that have potential, and combine that with a strategy that we know works—top-notch management, sleek design that pays homage to the destination, creative programming and an incredible culinary experience.”

Gurney’s occupancy in September and October is similar to June, even though many typically think of Montauk and Newport as summer destinations. “The ‘season’ has definitely extended, with March through October being busy months in the destination overall as people enjoy increasing programming and events,” Filopoulos said. “At Gurney’s, we’ve added things like indoor paddleboarding, extended Kids Club, and wellness retreats through winter. Scarpetta Beach, the main restaurant at Gurney’s Montauk, opened three years ago with the intention of being seasonal, but due to demand, is now open year-round.”

There’s been a major shift in the current hospitality landscape; millennials continue to be the target of many brands. “We strive to create programming that fits all—whether it’s the millennial traveler on a bachelorette party or a baby boomer taking their kids and grandkids on a multigenerational family vacation,” he said. Gurney’s continues to follow and adapt to market trends.

“We’ve also seen resorts move toward a limited-service model, especially as they compete with the likes of Airbnb, which focuses…less on quality service and attention to detail,” Filopoulos said. “That being said, we pride ourselves on incredible service and guest touchpoints from the moment they step foot on our properties.”

There are currently two resorts under the Gurney’s brand: one in Montauk, the other in Newport. The brand also has 18 oceanfront homes in Montauk called the Residences at Gurney’s. Expansion plans have been in the works.

“We are seeking to expand the brand; however, [we]are extremely selective with regard to markets and the actual property,” he said. With close to 800 employees during summer peak season in the Northeast market, a winter location makes sense. Additionally, it would be logical to service our demographic and loyal guests where they travel.” HB

To see content in magazine format, click here.