A Semi-Irreplaceable Asset – The New Mystic Hilton
by RONA MANN/Photos by Jeffery Lilly
That’s quite a statement; and one not made too lightly. It comes from Lou Carrier, President of Distinctive Hotel Group, based in the Boston suburb of Natick. Carrier is understandably proud and has a right to be, for what’s been happening for nearly a year and a half at the company’s property in Mystic is something he’ll eagerly tell anyone who wants to listen. It is the stuff of corporate success combined with a very selfless human touch.
“We purchased the Mystic Hilton in April of 2014,” Carrier begins. “The property sits right in the very heart of Mystic and is the only full service hotel in the area, but it had started to weather and was becoming less and less relevant. Yet we took one look at it and realized this is a semi-irreplaceable asset, so we decided to purchase it and make it relevant once again not just for our guests, but for Mystic and its residents as well.”
That’s an understatement. Distinctive Hotel Group did a lot more than just make the new Mystic Hilton relevant; they made it completely reflect the history, character, and personality of one of America’s great towns. “We wanted the property to complement the area, not just go in and remodel another hotel,” Carrier said.
There is an electricity and energy that instantly comes through when speaking with Lou Carrier. He most definitely does not have a rehearsed “elevator speech” to give the media; this is genuine enthusiasm and pride spilling out as fast as his words, so excited is he about the marriage of both the hotel and the historic town.
“We had the proper concept and the investment strategy to do it,” Carrier says, “yet we knew we were pushing the needle because we wanted to bring Mystic inside the hotel.”
Beginning last May the one goal Distinctive Hotel Group or DHG as it is known, had in mind was, “when you walk in, it will speak of Mystic and to Mystic.”
The ambitious journey begins with a replica of the MYSTIC drawbridge sign at the front desk and extends throughout the lobby area, to the restaurant, to the 182 guest rooms, all of which have been designed and appointed with accoutrements that are real and pertinent to the area.
“I did not want gimmicky stuff…I only wanted what was authentic to Mystic and all it offers,” Carrier said resolutely.”We wanted to make sure we were getting it right.” To that end, DHG worked exclusively with local people from the historical society, to experts from the seaport and aquarium, right down to local canvas work, and a curator who chose the art for the property, making sure it was authentic and reflective of Mystic and all it offers.
From the main lobby, now completely opened up and accented by new furniture, floor to ceiling glass-enclosed waterfalls, and the character, attitude, and spirit of the town in which it is domiciled, the visitor knows immediately upon entering that this is no cookie-cutter chain hotel property.
Even the restaurant in the Mystic Hilton is new…brand new, from the name to the design to the menu. Now called “The Irons,” its name offers more than a respectful wink and a nod to the renowned local shipbuilders of the early 1850s, Irons and Grinnell, famous for crafting the clipper ship, the Andrew Jackson.
The theme of bringing all that is Mystic inside the Mystic Hilton is carried from the front desk to the lobby to the restaurant to each of the 182 guest rooms, so whether the guest is from out of town, here to take in all that Mystic has to offer, or a local resident who merely desires a cocktail or dinner in a relaxing and authentic setting, the common experience is shared.
“It’s not just about business,” Carrier states, “but also about the culture of a place, about its history, about the significance of the seaport. It’s about excellent strategic planning that results in fully complementing the area. We want the Mystic Hilton to be the social and cultural center for this special town. It has always been situated in the heart of Mystic. Now we feel it truly is the heart of Mystic and all Mystic offers.”
The Mystic Hilton is still located at 20 Coogan Blvd. right in the center of Mystic. But if you think you know this hotel, take another look. Take a good look!