By Lee Dellicker
From the July/August 2016 Issue
The vision for the upscale, seaside Beauport Hotel situated on Pavilion Beach in Gloucester, MA began when Sheree Zizik, owner of the hotel, identified a dilapidated flash-freezing factory that had been owned by Clarence Birdseye, inventor of frozen foods as the perfect location to build a hotel.
Knowing there was a gap in the Gloucester market for a venue to host visiting tourists, conferences, and weddings, Zizik believed she had found a hidden gem. She envisioned building a hotel that would capture the essence of Gloucester’s historic character and provide a setting for a sophisticated hospitality experience on Boston’s North Shore. She also foresaw how the hotel could serve as a catalyst for shaping and transforming the identity of Gloucester’s future from a sleepy New England fishing town into a bustling and economically growing city.
After meeting Zizik through a mutual friend five years ago, I discussed with her that my firm, Windover Construction based in Beverly, MA, could not only build the beautiful hotel she envisioned, but also deliver the entire project as a turnkey operation. While this was an unusual approach for a construction management firm to take on, Zizik placed her trust in us. This was the start to a formidable partnership that made the project possible from its earliest stages to opening day in June 2016.
Windover Construction soon began to work with Ray Johnston, general manager of the Beauport Hotel, as well as the rest of Zizik’s team. At the time, the project did not have city approval to build the hotel and still needed authorization from the city council and zoning board. There was also a pocket of intense opposition from a small group of local Gloucester community members, businesses, and abutters who were averse to seeing their historic fishing community change.
Since Windover had experience working with Gloucester’s mayor, planning board, zoning board, conservation committee, and city council, the firm became involved early on in the discussions with city officials to permit the hotel development. While permits were granted initially, they were later appealed in 2013 by opposing community members.
That is when I asserted to the Beauport team that the only way to get the project approved was to meet in person with each stakeholder appealing the process to listen to their concerns and determine if an agreement could be reached between both parties.
I then met with each appealing party to ensure that all of their concerns were heard and to determine how to address them.
This proved tremendously successful, as we were able to reach resolutions with every opposing party.
Many of the solutions only required small design modifications, such as eliminating a walkway to the beach, installing sidewalks, and adjusting the seawall to protect the area from flooding. As a result, we nurtured trust within the community and gained its support. The appeals were dropped, and construction moved forward in June 2014.
The Hotel That Teamwork Built
“Windover Construction was not just a hired contractor,” says Johnston. “They were a trusted partner, and we were all on the same team.”
Windover directed the design-build process and played an integral role overseeing practically every aspect of the hotel’s completion, including permitting, budget, design, scheduling, interiors, and required technology—down to smaller details such as furniture, silverware, and linens.
In order to do this successfully, the collaboration needed to be just right between the builder, owner, architect, and other design-build partners, as well as Johnston and his staff, which is why it was essential to select a team that worked well together. The Windover team assisted the owner by selecting well-suited partners such as Olson Lewis + Architects as the architectural team and Niemitz Design Group for the interior design. As a result, the entire design-build team was extremely cohesive, enabling the hotel to be turned over and ready to welcome guests 15 days ahead of schedule.
Notes Johnston, “There are many ideas that come to the table when in the planning stages for a project of this stature, but some may not make sense or are too costly. It is the real collaboration—like what we experienced with Beauport, across builder, architect and other design-build partners, as well as owners—which drives excellence. Everyone has to trust and play off the other’s expertise and before you know it, your expectations will be exceeded.”
Design Elements, And Challenges
After two years of construction, Beauport opened to the public in June 2016. The 115,000 square foot, three story, 94 room boutique hotel features ocean views, a restaurant and bar, expansive decks, multiple function spaces including a conference center and ballroom, rooftop pool, and parking garage at ground level. The region’s history is captured through the building’s design, which harkens back to the grand shingle style hotels that once dotted Gloucester’s coast at the turn of the 19th century.
In addition to its visual appeal, the flow of the hotel was thoughtfully considered during the design phases. Johnston and the Beauport team lent their hospitality expertise to inform the functionality of every space to ensure a superior experience for guests and employees. “There are no hotels like this in the area,” says Johnston. “The quality, workmanship, flow, and thought process behind the details of the hotel are unsurpassed.”
A Chat With Ray Johnston
What is your role at the Beauport Hotel?
As general manager, it is my job to ensure there are clear and cohesive goals set among all various departments in the hotel, so that everything comes together for our guests. I am the person who represents the hotel to the guests and employees, and I want to make sure I do so in a way that holds true to the original vision of the owner.
What advice would you give to other general managers launching a brand new hotel?
Every day will be different with new challenges. You can’t let those bring you down. You need to adjust and adapt quickly, because things happen all the time that may not go the way you expected. Instead take the time to reflect on them and allow them to make what you do that much better the next day. Debrief with your staff and help them keep a strong, positive focus.
Windover Construction worked collaboratively on all design elements to ensure these satisfied the architect’s vision, constructible reality, budget, and schedule, and that they fulfilled the operational needs of the hotel. For this reason, Windover’s team along with the design partners and the owners were consistently engaged in design decisions.
No detail was spared in the creation of the hotel, and its amenities are complemented by elegant finishes. Masterful millwork adorns every wall and coffered ceiling; rich mahogany walls enclose the dining room; and colors of the ocean, sand, and sky influence the décor and furniture.
The four elegant event spaces throughout the hotel accommodate gatherings of up to 400 guests. The largest space, the 3,327 square foot Beauport Grand Ballroom, features handcrafted chandeliers, floor to ceiling glass windows and doors, and an outdoor oceanside terrace. It also provides the largest meeting and conference space on Cape Ann.
The rooftop pool and bar are open-air and offer guests views of the ocean and city of Gloucester. “It’s maintained beautifully, and while it’s seasonal, guests can enjoy the amenity through Columbus Day,” says Johnston.
The rooftop pool was one of the most significant design changes. Originally, the pool was designed to be on the main level deck, but after much consideration it was decided that it would be moved to the rooftop. The team identified early on that having the pool on the main level might be more of a distraction—than an attraction—to those dining in the restaurant or on the nearby deck. Options were discussed at length, and the team came up with the design and structural change that would allow the pool to be moved to the rooftop. Although this change added expense to the project, it was a necessary one to achieve the goal of a world class hotel.
Another key challenge was building in a flood zone. Windover worked with the team to design the structure to withstand these conditions. We designed the ground floor as a dedicated parking area, the first floor of the hotel at 14′ above sea level, and installed hurricane-proof windows throughout the hotel. Extensive site work was also conducted, including building a 240′ seawall along Pavilion Beach protecting the hotel from the ocean.
Collaboratively working through design elements such as these early in design and preconstruction enabled the final product to be truly extraordinary.
Bustling Hotel, And Environs
“This is a big operation,” says Johnston. “From the gift shop to the restaurant and bar, this is the first full service hotel in our region. It’s also designed with a strong food and beverage program to support the large and expansive facility. We wanted to be able to tap into the local community, and with this in mind, we built the restaurant and bar area so it serves not only tourists, but the local community year-round.”
As part of the design process for any hotel of this nature, Johnston advises that project teams imagine themselves in the shoes of the guests, and imagine what they would like to see. Additionally, to achieve operational and functional excellence, facility owners may want to consider what their employees will need in terms of how the spaces function and interact with each other. At Beauport, for example, a strategically placed service corridor connects all the key work spaces, such as the catering/room service kitchen, housekeeping, laundry, and support offices, so that accessibility and flow is as efficient as possible.
Signs of revitalization in the local Gloucester community are visible with the opening of the Beauport Hotel. Downtown there are now more shops, and more people considering opening new businesses, and a noticeable upswing in planned visits to the town and the hotel. The construction of the hotel—and now its operation—has added many jobs to the local community.
“We are so proud we were able to pull this off as a team, and we couldn’t be happier with the fact we have it open. Every day only gets better,” says Johnston.
Name of Facility: Beauport Hotel. Square footage: 115,000. Construction Timetable: June 2014 to June 2016. Facility Owner: Beauport Gloucester, LLC. In-House Project Manager/Facility Manager: Ray Johnston, general manager. Architect: Olson Lewis + Architects. Construction Manager: Windover Construction. Electrical Engineer: Roy Spittle Associates, Inc. Mechanical Engineer: Superior Plumbing & Heating. Structural Engineer: Odeh Engineers, Inc. Civil Engineer: Beals Engineering. Structural Steel: Norgate. Interior Design: Niemitz Design Group. FF&E Consultant: GS Associates, Inc. Drywall, LGMF, and Plastering: Paglia Plastering. Kitchen Equipment: Boston Showcase. Environmental/Geotech: Haley & Aldrich.
Furnishings: Aspire, Charter, Mackenzie Dow, Prince Seating. Flooring: Ardex, Armstrong, Ashawa, Daltile, Discover, Trinity. Carpet: Crossley Axminster. Ceilings: Rockfon ACT. Paint/Wall Coverings: Phillip Jefferies Wall Coverings, Sherwin-Williams. Acoustics/Sound Masking: Acentech (additional sound ceilings and resilient channel behind drywall). Movable Walls: Modernfold. Restroom Fixtures: American Standard; Symmons. Energy Management: INNCOM by Honeywell (smart thermostat). Property Management Software: ATRIO by Springer-Miller. Security System: Saflok, by Kaba (card readers). Fire System Components: BlazeMaster, Victaulic, Viking. Lighting: House of Troy, Icon, PBH Hospitality, Rexel, Royal, WattStopper (controls). HVAC Equipment: Greenheck (fans), LG (VRF system), RenewAire (ERVs). Backup Power Equipment: Kohler. Roofing: Atlas, Grace Ice & Water Shield, Revere Copper. Signage: Sign Design. Windows: Pella. Storefront: WinDoor, Inc. Doors: Kestrel; Steelcraft; TruStile. Elevators: Stanley Elevator (Thyssen Krupp). Millwork: Windham Millwork, Inc.
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