YORK-Yorktown Beach Hotel, formerly known as the Duke of York Hotel, has been closed since January and will open back up to guests on April 1. M.A. Bowry & Company LLC bought the $3-million property from Crockett Enterprises LLC on July 2, 2021. Matt Bowry, managing partner and general manager of the hotel, said phase one of the hotel’s remodeling endeavor has been productive.
“As you can imagine, there’s a ton of work that needs to be done. So, I’m taking bites at the apple,” said Bowry. Phase one includes work on the ground floor and common areas in addition to upgrading the electrical work, HVAC systems, and cleaning up the property.
The three-building hotel was built in different stages over the years. Two buildings located behind the main structure were built a few years apart. “There’s one building that was built in the 1962 to 1963 era, and the other in the 1966 to 1967 timeframe,” said Bowry. The waterfront structure was built in 1977.
Phases two and three will focus on guest rooms and is slated to begin after the tourist season in fall 2022. Bowry was initially planning to add a gym but decided against it to allow room for a small breakfast area for guests. The hotel has 59 parking spaces and 57 guestrooms. He opted to remove the full-service restaurant that was located on the main building’s first floor. “It was an easy decision,” said Bowry. “If the hotel is full, nobody can park here for dinner or breakfast.”
Bowry worked in real estate investment banking and private equity for about 25 years before expressing interest in purchasing the hotel. His curiosity in the local landmark was piqued in 2008 while having a beer at the Yorktown Pub. After reflecting upon the endeavor, he drafted a letter to Paul Crockett expressing interest in purchasing the only waterfront hotel on the Peninsula and stayed in touch with him for the next 12 years.
“I stopped by every six months or so to say hi and catch up,” said Bowry. “He sold it to me when he was ready to retire.”
Bowry mentioned Crockett had a lot of people interested in purchasing property, and it was important to the former owner that the buyer carry on his legacy.
“He didn’t want it to become a Best Western or something similar to that,” said Bowry.
To date, Bowry said he’s put almost $1 million into the remodeling project, and guest quarters’ modification estimates are projected to cost $15,000 to $20,000 per room. “We’ve got a ways to go,” said Bowry. “It’ll probably take roughly two to three more years to complete the project. I’m going to try and replicate The Tides Inn right here. I know that’s a bold statement. Now, we’re never going to be a four-star hotel, but I want to emulate the best. I’m a perfectionist.”
He looks forward to continuing the Crockett family’s tradition of providing a scenic destination for families and friends to stay while visiting the Historic Triangle.
Bowry mentioned the community has been very welcoming and supportive of his business model, though he faced a little pushback regarding the name change from Duke of York Hotel. Crockett’s late father worked as a state delegate in Richmond. His nickname up there was the Duke of York, so the name didn’t necessarily have historical significance.
“In my business model, I wanted to highlight the element of the beach,” said Bowry. “I think if more people knew they could stay right here on the water while traveling to Williamsburg, they would. Why would they stay at a branded hotel on Richmond Road if they could stay right here? When travelers Google hotels in the area, they’ll see there’s one on the beach, so hence the name.”
Bowry grew up in Newport News, attended Hampton Roads Academy, James Madison University, and received his MBA from the College of William & Mary. A longtime local, he intends to live at the hotel until the project is completed.
Yorktown Beach Hotel is located at 508 Water St. at the waterfront in Historic Yorktown. For more information, visit yorktownbeachhotel.com or call (757) 898-3232.