WILLIAMSTOWN -- Since 1962 Carl and Marilyn Faulkner have been helping make people comfortable during their travels.
Since 1974 they've been doing so at the 128-room Williams Inn. Over those 40 years, the Faulkners, who refer to themselves simply as innkeepers, and their crew have served roughly 700,000 overnight guests, with a great many of them being families of Williams College students.
"It's been fun, and I feel like I've become a member of some of these classes that have come through here," Carl Faulkner said Friday. He was speaking at a gathering of college officials and representatives of Main Street Hospitality Group, which will be taking over operation of the inn when the Faulkners retire as of May 1.
Ownership of the business will transfer to Williams College, which already owns the land on which the inn is located.
Main Street Hospitality Group operates the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and The Porches in North Adams. It is also preparing to operate a 45-room boutique hotel on North Street in Pittsfield, which is under construction.
"Many customers, bus tours and convention travelers have used both the Williams Inn and the Red Lion Inn," Faulkner noted. "But we never tried to steal each other's customers -- good hotels don't do that."
Faulkner said there are a few renovations that need to happen at the inn which they have been unable to get to during the recession. But with Williams College taking possession, and Main Street Hospitality running the show, he said he is confident that the hotel will be in good hands.
All previously booked parties will be honored, and the hotel staff will stay on for at least six months while the new management evaluates the building and the employees, said Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality.
The Williams Inn employs between 45 and 60 people, depending on the season, Faulkner said.
"We are really impressed with the way the inn has been kept up," Eustis said. "It's in very sound condition. And we have a lot of wonderful connections with the Williams Inn and we're sensitive to the role this inn plays in the community."
Bruce Finn, COO of Main Street Hospitality, will be taking over the operation at Williams Inn. For years he has been general manager of the Red Lion Inn.
After he retires, Faulkner said he hopes to do a little traveling. "But I have to spend time with my fruit trees. I have to be here for that."
Marilyn Faulkner said she plans to spend more time at home.
"She just wants to get the heck out of here," her husband said, chuckling.
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