ROCKPORT — Kimberly Voltero has fulfilled a dream: She is now a hotel owner.
Voltero, formerly of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce's tourism council and Gloucester's tourism commission, became the new owner of the Emerson Inn two weeks ago.
"Our goal right now is (to reopen on) May 1," she explained. "We do have a group that's anticipated in the first week in May, so we hope everything will work out with our current limitations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. We also still have events that are booked with the previous owners that we are looking to honor."
Before then, Voltero is looking to change the interior design of the 36-room seaside inn at 1 Cathedral Ave. The old-school, tavern-like feel will be replaced with a new-school art deco look.
"Something like the roaring '20s, before before the Art Nouveau movement," Voltero said of her plans for the 170-year-old hotel. "We have pieces of furniture that are literally from the '20s, so we're trying not to loose those key pieces."
Upgrades to the inn's restaurant are also planned. Voltero said the menu will lean "more towards European food, but not yet fine dining." She says plates will be portable so guest could take their meals anywhere — perhaps on the lawn for a picnic or on the newly refurbished veranda.
"Our goal is to have guests be able to bring their food from the fourth floor down to the pool and still have it look delicious," said Voltero. "There will be charcuterie, raw bar items, lobster in various ways, chowders ... We're also making changes to the inn's software so we can do contactless check-in and ordering. So, in theory, the restaurant will have take-out this way."
Post-pandemic plans are also in the works. Voltero is looking to have "a very active calendar of events" once certain COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. These include outdoor concerts on the lawn, health and wellness workshops, food tastings, artist exhibits, lectures and sporting events.
"We want to enable our guests to enjoy this location as much as they can and for the community have another place to experience Cape Ann," said Voltero.
The majority of Emerson Inn's staff will be returning, such as general manager Megan Oakley, guest experience and event coordinator Candice Pierce, and breakfast pastry chef Gayle Mathews-McDonald.
"An important component is our staff," Voltero explained. "Returning guests have adored them over the years and wrote about them in our reviews. They ask about these folks whenever they return for a stay. I'm glad that's still in place. These wonderful employees have been part of the essence here — the heart and soul of Emerson."
For the future, Voltero said she hopes to keep Emerson open year-round. However, she expects the 2021 season to end sometime after the holidays.
"As someone has been part of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce's tourism council, I'm all about promoting the wonders of the area year-round." she said. "It's a very old building with not up-to-date wiring. The previous owners have upgraded a lot of the rooms, but there's still a few problems we need to solve before we can enjoy it through the winter. But we would love to keep the restaurant open year-round."
Emerson Inn was previously owned by the Migis Hotel Group of Maine, which purchased it in 2014. Representatives with the group could not be reached for comment for this story.
Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or firstname.lastname@example.org.