In this Feb. 15, 2014, file photo, the Trade Winds Inn is seen in Rockland. Credit: Stephen Betts / BDN

ROCKLAND, Maine ― One of the city’s largest and oldest hotels is on the verge of losing the city license required to host guests.

City officials denied renewing the Trade Winds Inn’s lodging license Monday night for repeatedly failing to comply with safety standards. It is not immediately clear what this means for the downtown 99-room hotel, which is currently housing guests, and what steps will be taken next to enforce the council’s action.

Messages to city officials and the hotel’s manager were not immediately returned Tuesday morning.

While councilors expressed hesitance to revoke a license for an operating business, after hearing from the city’s fire chief, they voted 3-1 in favor of denying the renewal.

“It’s not like we’ve just all the sudden gotten here. We’ve been communicating with them for months now waiting for certain things to get done and it just doesn’t get done,” Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock told councilors Monday night.

The license expired Oct. 15. However, when city councilors postponed renewing the license last month, the license was extended for 30 days, according to City Manager Tom Luttrell. This means the Trade Winds Inn can legally operate until Nov. 15.

The council had been postponing renewing the Trade Winds’ license for the last two months in an attempt to give hotel management time to fix problems. The hotel has sprinkler system deficiencies and also needs recent electrical work ― which was completed without proper permits ― inspected by city fire and code officials. That work was done following electrical fires in 2019.  

The city asked Trade Winds to show proof that they were at least scheduled to have the sprinkler work done, but Whytock said that has yet to be done.

This isn’t the first time the hotel has been in a similar situation. The Trade Winds was on the brink of losing its lodging license at least twice in the last decade.

Most recently, in October 2019,  the City Council gave the hotel 30 days to fix a number of problems, including a lack of sprinkler heads and holes in parts of the ceiling, that put the facility at a greater risk of fire.

The hotel ultimately remedied the problems and the council renewed the lodging license.

In 2016, code violations at the hotel were broadcasted on national television when the facility was featured on an episode of the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.”

The episode exposed numerous fire code violations, including household extension cords being used in ceilings of rooms and charred wiring near insulation. Those problems were remedied in 2016 after the City Council gave the hotel’s management a 30-day extension on its lodging license.

On Monday, Whytock called the hotel a repeat offender in terms of safety code violations, and said he would be in favor of denying the license renewal if he had a vote.

Whytock’s department and the code office are responsible for conducting license inspections. They aim to work with businesses that are in violation of health and safety rules.

However, while the Trade Winds has been receptive to fixing smaller problems in the past, progress is not being made on remedying larger issues, Whytock said.

“I think this may be a good opportunity for, maybe, the council to put a little teeth behind the bark, so to speak. I feel like we kind of go round and round with certain establishments on things that need to be done,” Whytock said. “The Trade Winds seems to be one we’re back to again and again.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when the Trade Winds Inn will no longer hold a valid lodging license.