After considering a piecemeal approach to updating the aging Best Western hotel he runs with his family next to the Long Island Expressway and Tanger Outlet Center in Riverhead, Rob Salvatico said he became convinced a one-shot plan to renovate the place would work best.
He decided to break away from the American hotel chain and turn the traditional roadside stop into what he calls a chic and modern one-stop destination. It’s name will be Hotel Indigo East End.
“We could either go room by room and update things here and there, but success had certainly waned, and I believe the concept had just passed its time,” said Mr. Salvatico, 37, speaking of the property’s life as a Best Western. “Not to say it was ever really bad at anytime in 40 years here. It was just time to start over. No renovation is easy, but I have to say, this has been really fun so far.”
Built in 1972 as a Holiday Inn, the 100-room hotel was taken over by Ramada in the early 1990s. It became a Best Western in 2001 and the Salvatico family, who also owns the Holiday Inn Express in Riverhead, bought it in 2004, continuing to run it for six years as a Best Western.
Now, it is completely gutted, with construction crews working “crazy double time” since February in hopes of an opening in early July, Mr. Salvatico said.
With an upscale restaurant called Bistro 72 replacing the North Fork Grill within the complex and the addition of catering and spa facilities, Hotel Indigo will be similar to East Wind Inn and Spa in Wading River, though not nearly as expansive, Mr. Salvatico said.
“But we are going for a similar contemporary resort-type of feel,” he said of his multimillion-dollar project.
Mr. Salvatico, his father, Albert, and his uncle Louis, who own the hotel together under the Garden City-based company Jaral Properties, are working with the Rhode Island-based design firm Morris Nathanson to “embrace” the architecture of the original building with a “1960s revival” look for both the interior and exterior, he said.
The lobby will have an open-air feel, with brighter colors and custom lighting to lift the mood from the dark-wooded interior of the past. The fitness center has been moved from the basement to a first-floor room with a view of the outdoor pool area.
“It’s always nicer to work out with natural lighting,” he said.
A library area featuring a double-sided glass fireplace and flat-screen televisions playing local and national news will be accessible via the lobby, and the space that had been the North Fork Grill bar will be a private dining room. A large L-shaped bar will be installed in the main dining room, and french doors will open up onto the patio and pool area.
“It’s going to be a lot more free-flowing than it was,” Mr. Salvatico said.
Mr. Salvatico said the new “poolscape” to the rear of the building will have a “real Miami Beach feel,” complete with decorative lighting, outdoor glass fireplaces and ivy-lined fencing taking the place of the Best Western pool’s white plastic safety barrier.
The basement ballroom, which can accommodate about 190 people, is being completely renovated. A boardroom, bridal party room and catering office are being added to the basement, and the aging kitchen area off the ballroom will be completely redone.
Hallways to rooms are being widened to eliminate a claustrophobic feeling — it “was something out of ‘The Shining’ before,” Mr. Salvatico said — and the guestrooms themselves will feature artsy murals of outdoor scenes characteristic of the area. They’ll be furnished in a style reminiscent of bygone eras.
Mr. Salvatico said that all of the old furniture and decorations from the Best Western days were donated to local charitable organizations including Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in Riverhead and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island.
Rates for rooms won’t stray too far from what Best Western offered, ranging from $150 during the off-season to up around $300 in season, “but not every night,” Mr. Salvatico said. “Nothing is set in stone yet. Less traffic will mean cheaper rates.”
With support from Riverhead Town and the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Salvatico said he hopes Hotel Indigo will revitalize not only his own business but the commerce of the East End as a whole.
“This is a great opportunity to capitalize on the property, which has great bones. Now it needs a really distinctive face,” he said of the property, which he thinks is almost perfectly situated for tourists between North Fork Wine Country and the Hamptons. “It’s been here forever and has always had so much potential, so we’re finally taking the landscape and doing something with it.”