Historic Surf Hotel will reopen this summer
The owners of the landmark Surf Hotel on Block Island's Old Harbor waterfront announced this week that, five years after closing the doors and putting the grand Victorian building up for sale, it will reopen for business July 4 under new management.
“The Surf has remained empty for too long," said Barbara and Stanley Nyzio and Lorraine Cyr in a joint statement. "Now we have a plan that will get the hotel open and bring our guests back.”
The three were speaking on behalf of their mother, Beatrice Cyr, and their late father, Ulric Cyr, they said. The Cyr family ran the hotel, built in 1876, for 50 years. It attracted generations of guests who loved it for its family atmosphere, beach-side location, reasonable room rates and for the Cyr family dogs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels that were always present in the hotel's lobby.
The family closed up shop in 2007, saying the business had become too much work as they got older. They retain ownership under the name Ulbe LLC, land records show.
The 11,500-square-foot building sits atop a seawall at the southernmost end of three-mile Crescent Beach. It boasts four stories, gingerbread trim and a 1,000-square-foot deck overlooking downtown Old Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.
Inside, it remains much as the Cyrs ran it. It is filled with old artifacts, from paintings and plates hanging on the walls to an old china doll and a stuffed eagle perched over the reception desk.
Originally going for $12 million in a joint listing by Sullivan Real Estate and Block Island Realty, the Surf's price had dropped to $6 million by last month.
The opening was made possible by a management agreement with a family experienced in renovating and operating similar resorts, Paul and Joan Nedovich of Moodus, Connecticut, and their daughters Heather Rasemus and Kimberly Afonso. The Nedovich family approached the Cyrs just three weeks ago, according to a joint statement. They were swiftly engaged by the Cyrs to oversee all of the improvements necessary to reopen the hotel and to manage operations for them.
The Cyrs have now granted an option to purchase the Surf to the Nedovich daughters for an undisclosed amount.
The hotel almost found a buyer last year, but developer Joe Vita pulled out in February 2011, citing problems getting financing. Otherwise, it has sat empty on the corner of Water and Dodge streets, attracting the curiosity of visitors and the concern of town officials worried it could become a fire risk.
“Through these last years, we've spoken to and negotiated with many who wanted to buy the Surf — some had realistic plans and others did not," said Lorraine Cyr. She added that she is confidant that the Nedovich family will operate the hotel "like our family operated.”
The July 4 opening date is "ambitious," acknowledged the Cyr family, "but really important.”
“We are probably crazy for taking this on at this late date," said Paul Nedovich, "but we have been there, done that before, and we have a high level of confidence we can pull this off. We will need good luck, and lots of cooperation from many people, to get this opened by the Cyrs' deadline.”
The Nedovich family has been renovating and operating resorts owned by them and for others since 1969 in seven states from New Hampshire to Florida to Missouri. Paul Nedovich will devote his primary attention between now and the opening to identifying all of the significant applicable regulatory requirements that must be satisfied to bring the Surf Hotel up to code in order to open. Rasemus and Afonso, who will be primarily responsible for managing the hotel once it opens, are relocating to Block Island within a few weeks to focus on the hotel's physical state. Beatrice and Lorraine Cyr and Barbara Nyzio say they are quickly wrapping up their Florida vacation to get back to Block Island and help.