You may have noticed the sign at the Country Inn at Jamesport — “Under New Ownership” — while driving on Route 25 recently.
So who bought it? And what do they have planned?
Duncan Kennedy is settling into his role as new owner of the establishment, which will soon be known as the Duncan Inn. After looking at sites for his hotel on both the South Fork and the North Fork, he chose the latter.
“This place had the most potential. The rooms are small, but they’re clean and very basic,” Kennedy said.
A native of Scotland, Kennedy has lived in the U.S. for over 25 years. As a former distribution director for Starwood Hotels, he has traveled the world extensively and knows the hotel business. Recently, he decided it was time to step away from the corporate world and run his own hotel.
“I’ve been coming up here a lot, so when I looked at the business opportunity, the North Fork made the most sense to me,” Kennedy said. “The season’s longer up here and there’s more variety with the festivals and wineries. There’s just a lot more options for visitors. I like that.”
Kennedy was particularly taken with the idea of owning a motel in this country; they don’t exist in his homeland.
“Being from another country, that motel ‘look’ was appealing to me,” he explained. “We only saw images of them in the movies and on television. I thought, ‘Wow’, that’s really American!”
Kennedy paid $1.3 million in December 2015 for the property and 20-room motel. The seller, a company that goes by the name BMY Group, could not be reached for comment.
Kennedy has a lot planned for the property, not the least of which is a major overhaul he hopes to have done by April of this year.
Every room will be painted, re-floored and re-done with new furniture, artwork and bedding. All rooms will offer basic amenities like coffee makers, fridges and microwaves, while larger rooms will offer a bit more luxury like bathrobes and slippers, along with king-size beds. Kennedy plans to offer breakfast and snacks with the regular room rate. Summer rates will be approximately $200 a night for a standard room and $300 for larger rooms.
“I’m not trying to make it five-star, I’m just trying to up it a little bit,” Kennedy said. “People are looking for nice things when they come and stay. If you’re just getting an empty box, who wants that?”
While the property does not have a swimming pool, Kennedy will keep the large green garden in the back of the hotel as outdoor seating for guests, adding new garden furniture and a pergola for effect.
He also plans to rent the outdoor space to guests for parties and other events. “There’s a fire pit and a barbecue. We can mix and match that to whatever you want it to be,” he said.
Kennedy said reaction from Riverhead officials — both town leaders and the Chamber of Commerce — was positive when they learned he was looking to buy the motel.
“Everybody was saying, ‘We need this! If you buy that place can you make it look better?’”
“My hope is that, whoever the new owner is, they will work towards that goal of having it really be used as a place for tourists to come to the East End,” said Angela DeVito, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civics Association. “Because it does lead into restaurants, it’s very close and within walking distance to Lenny’s or Grana or The Elbow Room.”
Kennedy’s overhaul has already begun. The doors have already been painted merlot red — a nod to the Duncan Inn’s surroundings.
The Duncan Inn is located at 1399 Main Road in Jamesport and is now open for business. For more information call 631-722-4024.