Devil's in the details as The Williams Inn prepares for its move
WILLIAMSTOWN — With the "big move clock" ticking down, The Williams Inn management team is busily planning the process to relocate to the new inn at the bottom of Spring Street.
It's a complex task with a multitude of details to monitor, said Kevin Hurley, who recently was named the new general manager by the Waterford Hotel Group, a hotel management firm hired by Williams College to operate the hotel. And the clock ticks down on July 31, when the old inn will close; the new inn will open its doors Aug. 15.
And although there are fewer guest rooms at the new facility — 125 at the old inn; 64 at the new one — officials expect to have a larger workforce.
"There are definitely a lot of moving parts," Hurley told The Eagle. "We're definitely on time and on track, though. The majority of it is in place."
Since almost all of the furnishings, except for a few assorted office pieces, will be replaced, there is not much to move from the old site to the new one.
The Williams Inn was established as a privately owned hotel on the campus of Williams College in 1912, and moved to its present site on Main Street in the 1970s. The college took over ownership in 2014, and formally unveiled plans in 2016 to rebuild on the downtown site.
But with the new inn in a new location, there will have to be lots of training before opening. There are a lot of computer programs for bookings and restaurant operations, among others, with which the employees will need to be proficient.
The hospitality team also has to get acquainted with the space, figure out where things will be stored and what the traffic flow inside will look like. Restaurant workers will need time to learn the ropes, from the ordering systems to the menu, according to Matt Sheehy, associate vice president of finance and administration for Williams College.
Sheehy serves as the operational liaison between the college, which owns the inn, and the Waterford management team.
Employees need to train on the systems to learn best practices and policies, he said, and to figure out the little stuff, like which light switch turns on which lights, where the breakers are, plan the workflow for housekeeping — even where to store the luggage carts.
And with the restaurant, The Barn, planning to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, Hurley said, he expects the activity there to be "more robust" than at the old place, necessitating a larger staff.
The rooms are equipped with 65-inch televisions, and each room sports an assortment of energy-saving technology.
There also is space for meetings and banquets. The banquet hall can seat 150 with the dance floor. Without the dance floor, it can seat 250. The restaurant/lounge can seat 50 at tables and an additional 10 at the bar. There is further seating on the patio outside the restaurant and the banquet hall.
Hurley said he is hoping the new inn continues as a gathering place for community groups, and that the local folks will frequent the new restaurant as well.
"We're excited to be out there in the community," Hurley said. "We hope to be a place for the community to gather, and the menu will reflect that. It will be very approachable."
As the new general manager, Hurley brings more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality game. Before joining The Williams Inn, Hurley worked as an assistant general manager at the Kimpton Taconic Hotel in Manchester, Vt.
Recently, Waterford named Kevin DeMarco as the inn's new executive chef. With 13 years in the business, DeMarco joins The Williams Inn from the Newport Restaurant Group in Newport, R.I. His last post was as chef tournant at the historic Castle Hill Inn, a Relais & Ch teaux property.
As for the old inn, Sheehy said there is not yet any plan for that building or that property.
Overall, the new Williams Inn, nestled at the base of Spring Street overlooking the commercial corridor, surrounded by trees and mountains in a brand new, up-to-date facility, should fit right in with the village atmosphere, Hurley said.
"It's going to be a great addition to the town," he said.
Scott Stafford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-629-4517.
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