Main Street Hospitality, owners of the Red Lion, purchase Briarcliff Motel, diversifying the group’s holdings

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By Wednesday, Oct 4 News
Terry Cowgill
Main Street Hospitality of Stockbridge, owner of the Red Lion Inn, has purchased the Briarcliff Motel on Route 7 in Great Barrington.

Editor’s note: this story has been revised to include additional information.

Stockbridge — The Main Street Hospitality Group’s empire is expanding. On Monday (Oct. 2) the group closed on the purchase of the Briarcliff Motel in Great Barrington — a move that increases the group’s Berkshire County holdings to six.

In an interview, Main Street CEO Sarah Eustis confirmed the $1.265 million sale, which will be financed through Lee Bank and a group of investors, including Main Street itself.

“We’re excited,” Eustis said, adding that the Briarcliff allows Main Street to diversify its portfolio.

Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality, in the courtyard of the Red Lion Inn. Photo: David Scribner

In 2013, the Fitzpatrick family, which owns the Red Lion Inn and the soon-to-be defunct Country Curtains, formed the Main Street Hospitality Group, a privately held hotel management company.

In addition to the Red Lion, the Maple Glen at The Red Lion Inn and the Briarcliff, Main Street owns and manages The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield, and the new 45-room Hotel on North in Pittsfield. In all, the company has 275 rooms and 350 employees in western Massachusetts.

Until July, Main Street also operated the Williams Inn in Williamstown. The Williams Inn, now owned by Williams College, will relocate from the Main Street traffic oval near Town Hall to a new building at the base of Spring Street in the heart of downtown Williamstown.

Briarcliff was independently owned by Clare and Richard Proctor, a couple from England who bought it in 2011, restored it and opened it the following year. Briarcliff’s website described itself as a “classic 60s motel” that was transformed into “a friendly 16-room hotel for today’s travelers.”

It’s a bit different but it’s great,” Eustis said of the motel on Stockbridge Road (Route 7) north of town at the base of Monument Mountain and just south of Monument Mountain Regional High School. “The previous owners, they really did the heavy lifting in transforming it from a classic 60s motel to something with a bit more flair and design.”

Asked how the Briarcliff, which is a departure from her company’s other properties, fits in with Main Street’s business model and brand, Eustis said Briarcliff’s strength is that “it does not duplicate anything we currently do.” She described the motel as “slightly irreverent” and said it “appeals to a younger crowd” and that Main Street planned no significant changes to it.

 

The classic porch of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass. Photo: David Scribner

“It’s a good opportunity because there is only so much an independent owner operator can do in terms of marketing, growth and infrastructure,” Eustis explained. “Now we’ll have an infrastructure that an independent can really benefit from … We can also optimize growth, and in terms of our brand, it allows us to speak to some new customers.”

In addition, Eustis said it will afford Main Street’s staff the opportunity to grow through working in a different environment.

“In some ways the Briarcliff is a great alternative to an Airbnb,” Eustis said of the upstart online marketplace and hospitality service. “It’s a motel, but it’s warm and welcoming. It’s a hip, chic environment but not expensive.”

She further described the Briarcliff, with its location across from the Monument Mountain Reservation and its trail to Squaw Peak as a “hikers’ heaven.”

“Since Richard and I opened Briarcliff in 2011, we have found the Berkshires to be a great place to live and run a small, independently-minded business, and we’re filled with gratitude to the many people we’ve met who have encouraged and helped us along the way,” Clare Proctor said in a statement released by Main Street. “It’s time for the next big step, both for us and for the Briarcliff, and we are delighted to be passing the place into the hands of Main Street Hospitality: a company who will continue to shepherd it forward under Sarah Eustis’ passionate leadership.”

The Proctors, who could not be reached for additional comment, have been trying to sell Briarcliff since at least November 2015 when they listed the 16-room motel for sale on loopnet.com for an unpublished asking price.

The Briarcliff Motel on Route 7 in Great Barrington. Photo: Terry Cowgill

The property, which totals some six acres, is assessed for taxation purposes at $881,400. The couple paid $345,000 for it three years ago, according to records in the Great Barrington assessor’s office.

Some analysts have told The Edge they think the hotel scene in the Berkshires is becoming saturated, with new hotels — some of them quite large — springing up all over the place, spawning the hyperbolic phrase “hotel wars.”

“We’re getting there,” Eustis said of the potential for market saturation. “But there are new demand drivers, which is great.”

She cited the expansions of MASS MoCA, Tanglewood, and new year-round programming at Jacob’s Pillow as potential drivers for new demand.

“They’re all doing such a great job giving people a new reason to come here, so we’re grateful for that,” Eustis said.

Eustis said she wanted to thank the employees at Lee Bank for their help in making the acquisition a reality.

“They were really easy to work with and they believe in our business owners,” she said. “They’re a locally based bank, and smart on top of it.”


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