Williams Inn plan shrinks by 40 rooms

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WILLIAMSTOWN - Plans for the new Williams Inn proposed for lower Spring Street have been scaled back a bit as planners have decided the proposed site is too constrictive for a 60-room hotel with a 40-room annex.

So, to conserve some of the natural setting around the site, the plan now stands at a hotel with roughly 65 rooms, a restaurant with about 50 seats and event space with seating for 150 to 200 people. None of these numbers are final and could still change during the ongoing design phase.

The target date for opening is 2019, according to Fred Puddester, vice president of finance and administration for Williams College.

The materials for the exterior siding will be wood and stone, he added.

"Our goal is to have the look and feel of a New England inn," Puddester said. "And it's an unbelievably beautiful site with Christmas Brook running through it, and the woods surrounding it, and the wonderful mountain views. But there are wetlands, and we don't want to encroach on the brook, so it's a tough site to build on."

Design is ongoing, and officials expect the proposed hotel plan to begin working its way through the town's permitting process by Jan. 1, 2018.

The proposal for a new Williams Inn is one of three hotel proposals pending in Williamstown. Waubeeka Golf Links in south Williamstown is in the early stages of a plan for a resort hotel on the golf course with up to 120 rooms. And Southern Berkshire hotelier Navin Shah is in the final stages of seeking town approval for a 95-room, three story hotel at 430 Main St.

Puddester said research has shown that there is very strong demand for hotel rooms from mid-May through mid-October in Williamstown, "in particular with close proximity to the college and the Clark, so that will work as a big advantage to us."

He noted that while the current Williams Inn has 125 rooms — and fills up for special events like graduation or alumni weekend — an inn with less than 70 rooms will be more sustainable throughout the year.

During the winter months, the inn attracts a fair amount of business just from the college alone, like prospective college employees, visiting faculty and lecturers, parents and people doing business with the college, Puddester said.

"We've been tracking that pretty closely, and we're confident that we'll have a steady flow of guests — much slower, but certainly steady enough to carry us through the winter," he said. "So we think the number of rooms in the mid-60s is the sweet spot for viability year-round."

The landscape will be enhanced along Christmas Brook, and there will be walking trails around the property and to the nearby Taconic Golf Club, Puddester said.

The building committee advising the design includes college officials and townsfolk, he noted, because this is going to be a building with public access and impacts on the Spring Street vista.

"It's going to be a prominent building in town, so we want the public's thoughts on look and function," Puddester said. "We want to do this right, so I think we'll design the right product for this area and have a successful business."


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