Finally! New hotel set to open

08/12/2010 12:00 AM |

Owner Marijana Bego in the second-floor lounge.

After three long years of construction glitches and problems meeting requirements imposed by Greenport’s Planning Board and Historic Preservation Commission, Bego-Ezair Hotel on Main Street is expected to open its doors Sunday.

It has been a long road for Southampton architect Peter Wilson and principals Marijana Bego and Khedouri Ezair, who first arrived in Greenport with plans for a hotel and a restaurant, to be called Nello, across the street on the site of the former Ile de Beaute. They were greeted by headlines that read, “No, no, Nello” as concern about their plans slowed the review process.

Problems included how to accommodate on-site parking, how to install sewer lines given issues with existing lines and how many seats to allow at the restaurant, both inside and on the front lawn. And when those hurdles were cleared and construction began, members of the Historic Preservation Commission called the architect back because installed windows didn’t match those that had been approved.

Mr. Wilson announced that his clients were out of his control and doing what they wanted and he had no means of interceding. Enter Ms. Bego and her contractor with their mea culpas to the board. They were finally able to work out differences and agree to green shutters on the pale yellow building.

Work resumed on the hotel, but the restaurant, which was expected to open earlier this summer, still sits practically untouched while the owners look for someone to operate it, Ms. Bego said.

She is still working with the HPC to gain approval of outdoor lighting, but has a provisional certificate of occupancy allowing both the hotel and gallery to operate, village administrator David Abatelli said.

Ms. Bego said she and Mr. Ezair bought the hotel building for about $1 million and have put at least that much into renovations.

The building has actually returned to its roots, as it had been a hotel previously, providing respite for weary sailors from the 18th century through to the mid 19th century. It was later a rooming house and in more recent years, before Ms. Bego and Mr. Ezair bought the property, housed retail stores with rental units above them.

The new hotel has nine guest rooms, the largest of which is handicapped accessible and located on the ground floor off the rear garden and parking lot.

The ground floor, where guests will check in, also houses an airy art gallery; a lounge called St. Green’s, where patrons can enjoy alcoholic beverages; and Drunch, a cafà that will serve coffee, tea, cold drinks and light fare.

Although the building is historic, it has a modern feel, with white walls throughout, contemporary paintings and sculptures and natural pine and oak flooring and woodwork.

Plenty of natural light pours through windows, adding a sense of spaciousness to the interior, especially on the ground floor.

Except for the handicapped accessible room, guest rooms are small, but because of the natural light and sparse furnishings, none feels cramped. The bathrooms feature unglazed blue, green, sand and gray tiles, which Ms. Bego said reflect the sea, sky and beaches of the Greenport environs.

“We wanted all natural tones,” Ms. Bego said. Sheets match the tiling and thick Magniflex mattresses imported from Italy promise a good night’s sleep. All rooms have flat screen television sets, DVD players and Internet accessibility.

On the hotel’s second floor, a large open lounge offers a library-like space overlooking Main Street for guests who want to use computers outside their rooms. There are two large leather couches and rocking chairs for those who want to relax. A sun deck overlooks the rear garden. There’s even a piano.

Third-floor guest rooms have a roomier feel because of their higher ceilings.

Ms. Bego operates the Ezair Gallery on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue and it was the idea of finding larger gallery space in an artsy community that attracted her and Mr. Ezair to Greenport, she said.

The hotel business is a new challenge for her, but seemed to be a natural fit with the gallery, she said.

“What else could we do?” she said. What she hopes is that it will be a mecca for creative people — artists, writers and others — who want to come to Greenport.

“I want them to remember Greenport and spend a pleasant few nights,” she said.

Artists hanging their paintings on Sunday were quick to agree. They have shown their work at Ezair Gallery in Manhattan, but said the space in Greenport allows them to show off larger canvasses.

“It’s wonderful,” said contemporary artist Eveline Luppi. “You can enjoy the flow of the work.”

“Everybody is excited about the restoration,” artist Wanda Murphy said. “I love the space; it’s beautiful. It’s got a good feel and you can feel the spirit of the building.”

Artists are optimistic that Ms. Bego will attract top New York City artists to show their works in Greenport

“Greenport’s exceptional, being by the sea,” Ms. Luppi said, explaining her desire to display her work here.

“It’s romantic and it’s a very creative space,” Ms. Bego said.

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