PORTLAND, Maine — As the city’s hospitality scene intensifies, two new players have stepped on stage.
On Thursday, midcoast hoteliers Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest of the Camden Harbour Inn purchased The Danforth in the West End.
“We are planning renovation in the winter of 2014 and anticipating opening up a restaurant by early 2015,” said Brunyanszki, who did not disclose the purchase price for the stately 1823 manse. “We’d like to bring the same unique signature luxury experience we offer at Camden Harbour Inn to Portland.”
The nine-room inn at 163 Danforth St. was owned by Kimberly Swan. It became known for its acclaimed if short-lived restaurant, Carmen at The Danforth. The bistro closed over a year ago when repairs to the kitchen’s ventilation system became too costly. Celebrity chef Carmen Gonzalez eventually moved on.
The problems that marred Carmen at The Danforth don’t faze the new owners, who have budgeted up to $1 million for renovations.
“We will make infrastructure improvements right away,” said Brunyanszki, who intends to keep the inn open all summer and make major changes this winter.
“We want to bring it up to the level of The Camden Harbour Inn. Create the same high end- culinary destination in Portland,” said Brunyanszki.
Their Camden boutique hotel has won accolades for its upscale restaurant Natalie’s, which was recently named a top 100 best restaurant in the country by OpenTable.
Last fall the retreat overlooking Camden Harbor became a Relais & Chateaux property, a distinction equivalent to hospitality gold. Besides The White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, the Camden Harbour Inn is the only Maine property to receive that seal of approval.
As for the new restaurant anchoring The Danforth?
“It won’t be Natalie’s,” said Brunyanszki. “We are looking at Portland to see what is needed. Also what locals would like to see.”
They aim to showcase the historic features of the brick home and create an Asian-inspired decor that imparts a “Zen feeling of calm.” Fitness and spa treatment rooms will be added.
The Danforth 2.0 joins a roster of newcomers to Portland this spring.
The Hyatt Place and Courtyard Marriott both open this month in the Old Port. Last fall the Wild Iris Inn on State Street was purchased by 20-somethings and recently reopened as Mercury Inn.
Can all these new beds find heads?
“Yes,” says Lynn Tillotson, president of The Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“All indications so far show that it will be a great season. We are already hearing from hoteliers that bookings are ahead of last year.”