Yorktown Beach Hotel gets modern upgrades under new ownership


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May 29, 2023

Yorktown Beach Hotel gets modern upgrades under new ownership

Matt Bowry came back to the Peninsula to hit a goal a dozen years in the making

Matt Bowry came back to the Peninsula to hit a goal a dozen years in the making — to buy the only waterfront hotel in the Historic Triangle.

The managing partner of M.A. Bowry and Co. purchased the long-standing Duke of York Hotel in Yorktown near Riverwalk Landing for $3 million in July 2021, according to online county property records, and is taking it to a higher level. Renamed the Yorktown Beach Hotel, it earned the county's 2023 Distinguished Business Award presented to growing businesses that make significant investments in York County.

Bowry, a Newport News native, had left the area years earlier to pursue a career in investment banking and real estate private equity in Baltimore, Maryland.

While visiting his mother on the Peninsula, he had lunch at the Yorktown Pub a few doors down from the hotel.

"I said then, ‘I am going to buy that hotel,’" Bowry said.

First owned by the Crockett family, the first of three buildings were constructed in 1962 with two more buildings being added by 1977. It was built into the hill by the Holiday Inn corporation. At the time, Holiday Inn had another business building hotels for other companies, he said.

Bowry worked over the years to acquire the hotel.

"I wrote letters to Paul Crockett and met with him when I was in town. I developed a relationship with him and other family members and stayed in touch for more than a decade," he said.

Paul Crockett died in August last year. Crockett's son, Cole Crockett, is just a phone call away if Bowry has maintenance questions.

"He grew up in this hotel," he added. "He knows every facet."

Bowry, along with his investors, started making changes beginning with the name. They wanted to emphasize the York River beach across the street.

"We are selling the view," he said.

He renamed the three buildings. The largest building is the Chesapeake, with the mid-size being the James and the smallest called the York. This reflects the three bodies of water around the Peninsula.

Local contractor Scott Olsen and his team with Fjord Construction fully renovated the first floor of the Chesapeake over a year and a half. All windows along the front facade were replaced and the building received a fresh coat of paint. With grant help from the economic development authority, he upgraded windows and replaced old plastic balcony chairs with high-end matching chairs to offer the optimal beach-gazing experience. A new continental breakfast area and market for drinks and snacks opened in April and May.

The restaurant was eliminated to create an open lobby space. He made the decision because the restaurant was in disrepair and limited parking made it difficult to accommodate both restaurant and hotel customers. In addition, there are several restaurants within walking distance from the hotel.

While still in a three- to five-year renovation process, guests can notice a modern lobby and coastal blue walls in the hallways. The interior will continue to be renovated with the help of Bowry's fiancee, Ferren Wolfe, an interior designer, who will work on the guest rooms and a small conference room.

The pool was repaired complete with saltwater filtration. A grassy area with a gazebo in the middle of the hotel complex will remain a common space unless a group would like to hold an event. Bowry said groups need to book at least 30 rooms for the request. A military reunion recently did just that.

Future plans are to establish a rooftop deck. "There is 54,000 square feet. I hope to have it done by next Memorial Day," he said.

For Riverwalk Landing, the hotel's upgrades add to the county's mission.

"The county is focused on continual enhancements to the Historic Area, from Riverwalk Landing to the beach picnic area and up the hill on Main Street," said Kristi Olsen-Hayes, director of the Economic and Tourism Development Department. "Our EDA is also focused on retaining the long-standing businesses in our legacy industries. So, helping Mr. Bowry revive the aging hotel, and choosing Yorktown Beach Hotel as this year's award winner, made perfect sense. We’re excited to see this tourism asset refreshed and thriving again."

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