Lenox inn to get $2.2M upgrade under new owner

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Editor's note: This article was modified on June 28, 2018, to include information about the sale that was not available at press time.

LENOX — New owners plan to invest $2.2 million to renovate the historic Seven Hills Inn on Plunkett Street, calling it a "textbook" example of their interest in improving under-valued properties.

The Wardman Group, operating locally as TWG Lenox LLC, purchased the 57-room inn for $4.05 million from Dennis Wong and Robin Gerson Wong of of Lenox, the managers of Drewkat Partners LLC, according to the purchase and sale contract. That sum includes $2.5 million for the real estate; $500,000 for furniture, fixtures, equipment and hotel inventory; and $1.06 million for the approvals, booking contracts, deposits and intangible property, those documents state.

The property is assessed at $2.8 million by the town of Lenox.

The buyer obtained a $4.5 million mortgage on the 26.4-acre property, according to documents filed at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield.

The firm says on its website that it seeks out opportunities in the hospitality sector, targeting under-valued assets due to property condition, management issues and other factors.

"This property is a textbook expansion of what we're looking to acquire," said Thad Paul, the founder and CEO of The Wardman Group in a statement.

"We were able to buy the hotel at a substantial discount and we see a tremendous amount of upside," he said.

Paul did not return a telephone call seeking comment. On its website, the Wardman Group says its plan for the Seven Hills Inn includes renovating guest rooms and common areas and expanding operations year-round.

The renovations are expected to take place late this year.

The Seven Hills Inn, located next to The Mount, author Edith Wharton's historic home, consists of three buildings: a manor house built in 1910, a carriage house and a terrace building.

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The property once housed an 18th-century farmhouse which became Norwood, a Gilded Age cottage, following a renovation in 1885 by the Robert Chapin family. The Mount was built next door in 1904.

In 1911, Emily Reed Spencer, a direct descendant of Puritan William Bradford, who came to the New World on the Mayflower, purchased Norwood.

Spencer renovated the estate, doubled its size, and renamed it Shipton Court.

The Spencers, whose guests included famed dancer Isadora Duncan, operated Shipton Court until 1951 when they sold it to Larry and Sophie Howitt of New York, who re-named the property Seven Hills and converted it into an inn that catered to musicians and music-lovers who attended Tanglewood.

Leonard Bernstein, Beverly Sills, Dave Brubeck and a young Seijo Ozawa are some of the musicians who stayed at Seven Hills during the Howitts' tenure. The Wongs purchased the inn for $1.3 million in 2008, according to registry documents, and redecorated and remodeled the estate.

Seven Hills is the second luxury lodging establishment in Lenox to change hands in the last 12 months.

Blantyre, located roughly a mile east of Seven Hills on Blantyre Road, was sold for $4.6 million last June by the Fitzpatrick Family to Linda Law of California, who brought in Ocean House Management of Rhode Island to manage the property.

A member of the Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel association, Blantyre reopened Memorial Day weekend following a multi-million dollar renovation that took place during the winter.

The Wardman Group has brought in Scout Hotel and Resort Management of Falmouth to operate the inn, which was originally one of the famous "Berkshire cottages" of the late 19th century.

Scout also operates the 65-room Ocean Gate Resort in Boothbay, Maine, for the Wardman Group; three other lodging establishments on Cape Cod and the Islands, and an inn in Charlottesville, Va.

The Wardman Group also owns two establishments in Florida and one in South Carolina.

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.


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