Colgate University ousts local manager of historic Colgate Inn for out-of-state firm

HAMILTON, NY — Colgate University is replacing the local firm that has managed its 93-year-old Colgate Inn with a national hotel management company based in South Carolina.

The new management company is Charlestowne Hotels, which will take over the property at 1 Payne St. in the heart of Hamilton on July 1. The company, based in Charleston, S.C., specializes in running small and historic inns around the country, often near college campuses.

Charlestowne replaces Hospitality Concepts, a Central New York company that has run the Colgate Inn for 15 years.

Hospitality Concepts owner Ben Eberhardt said the university terminated his contract two years early and solicited new proposals for management last fall. He submitted a proposal and just found out the name of the new management company today.

Eberhardt said he has not been given a reason for the early termination of the contract or told why he did not win the bid this year. He said he has 62 employees at the Colgate Inn. The university has said Charlestowne will invite those employees to stay with the inn.

The university, through a spokesman, released a statement that said “the new agreement is a result of a thorough evaluation of options for future management of the inn. The university conducted this review as part of a continued effort to evaluate long-standing contracts to ensure that our friends, family, and neighbors are receiving the very best of what the market has to offer.

“The selection committee unanimously selected Charlestowne Hotels from a strong pool of applicants due to the company’s extremely successful experience in operating similar university-affiliated lodging destinations, and for their tailored, community-focused approach to hotel management,” the university statement continued.

The Colgate Inn has 40 guest rooms, plus a restaurant, bar and banquet rooms. 

The inn was built in 1925 and was operated privately until the early 1970s. In 1973, after it was saved from demolition, the university took over ownership. The inn is now among the properties owned by the university through its Hamilton Initiative LLC.

The tavern at the Colgate Inn in Hamilton, shown not long after a 2010 renovation. 

Since Hospitality Concepts took over the contract, the inn has had two major renovations, in 2004 and 2010. Eberhardt said he recruited noted interior designer Thom Felicia, a Syracuse native, to assist with the last renovation.

Eberhardt’s company also runs The Gould Hotel in Seneca Falls, the Red Mill Inn in Baldwinsville, and Dockers Seafood and Grille in North Rose, Wayne County. Hospitality Concepts had also run the No. 10 Tavern in Hamilton, but recently sold that business back to the university, which owns the property,  Eberhardt said.

Hospitality Concepts has also held the contract to run the Empire Room at the New York State Fair in recent years. That contract is now up for bid again and Eberhardt said he is not pursuing it.

“I want to thank members of the committee who reviewed the strong proposals that were submitted to operate the inn,” said Joseph Hope, Colgate vice president for finance and administration, in the university statement. “We know that, under Charlestowne Hotels, Hamilton’s premier lodging destination will continue to make Colgate alumni, parents, and friends feel at home when they visit campus.”

Hope added: “I would like to thank Ben Eberhardt for his management of the inn over several years.”

Charlestowne Hotels, founded in 1980, operates inns such as  The Autumn Inn, Northampton, Mass.; Hotel Indigo Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Inn at Carnall Hall, Fayetteville, Ark.; The Abernathy, Clemson, S.C.; The Inn at Elon, Elon, N.C.; The Sewanee Inn, Sewanee Tenn.; Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest, Ill.; The Collector Inn & Gardens, St. Augustine, Fla.; and the French Quarter Inn, Charleston, S.C.

Don Cazentre writes  for NYup.com, syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Reach him at [email protected], or follow him at NYup.com, on Twitter or Facebook.

Source