By KAITLYN NAPLES
By the beginning of May, anyone visiting Bristol will have a brand new hotel to stay at when the former Clarion becomes a DoubleTree by Hilton. The official change over is scheduled for May 7.
In 2011, Dr. Gerald Niznick, a dentist from California who’s company Niznick Enterprises Inc. is based in Las Vegas, acquired the Clarion Hotel on Century Drive. He has invested over $20 million into the project, said Niznick Enterprises Inc. pepresentative Pat Czajkowski. The investment has transformed the hotel into an upscale, modern place for guests to stay.
“It is absolutely beautiful,” Czajkowski said, adding that there will be a ribbon cutting scheduled in the beginning of May after the Clarion becomes a Hilton DoubleTree.
The original hotel had 120 rooms, a banquet facility, a lounge restaurant Jillian’s, and a business center. Its primary appeal is that it is located close to ESPN and Lake Compounce, and is centrally located in Connecticut. While the location has not changed, and it will still appeal to travelers, the hotel now has 141 sleeping rooms, including a 2,000 square foot presidential suite, two restaurants, a 7,500 square foot banquet facility that can be separated into three parts, an atrium to cater for events such as weddings and other functions, a patio for dining, a new swimming pool, a fitness center, business rooms, and new furniture and appliances for the rooms.
The two restaurants will be The Willows, which used to be Jillian’s, and Time Out bar, Czajkowski said. It will have top chefs, she said. The Willows will be an upscale restaurant with a “farm to fork” menu where everything is fresh, said Czajkowski. She said she hopes guests, and even those who aren’t guests of the hotel, will visit both The Willows and Time Out.
“It is a completely new hotel,” Czajkowski said, adding that the owner, Niznick, is excited about his new business venture in Bristol and looking forward to the future in the city.
Lynn Dell, the hotel’s general manager, said there will be an “athletic” floor in the hotel where the rooms include longer beds, taller doorways and shower heads, and other accommodations to cater to taller individuals. The hotel rooms start at $199 per night, and go up to $750 per night for the presidential suite, which is located in the new suite tower that was built.
“We are excited to showcase this new hotel to the community, which will set us apart in the hotel industry from other hotels in the area,” Dell said, adding that she hopes to have a staff of between 70 and 75.
Czajkowski added that the hotel will be a “really nice place for anyone to stay,” especially visitors of Lake Compounce, ESPN, and other Connecticut attractions. She said during construction, “no challenges came up that we couldn’t overcome.” She added that the contractor ACG North America Inc. “did a fantastic job.”
DoubleTree by Hilton has more than 325 hotels in 27 different countries. Bristol’s new DoubleTree is also being managed by Prestige Hospitality Group.
When Niznick acquired the Clarion, which is utilized by many organizations in the area for events, it was just after the completion of new Route 72 extension, which allows easier access to I-84. Additionally, ESPN has also announced construction of its new digital center.