YORKTOWN- At York County’s annual Distinguished Business Affair, Yorktown Beach Hotel earned the 2023 Distinguished Business Award, presented by the Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the Department of Economic and Tourism Development (ETD).
This award is presented to growing businesses that make significant investments in York County.
“I’m flattered and quite grateful for this honor, and for all of the assistance York County has
provided to us over the past few years,” said Matt Bowry, managing partner of M.A. Bowry & Company and owner of the property, “It really is a testament to all of the hard work of my team members, all coming together to make this project a success.”
Yorktown Beach Hotel, formerly the Duke of York, is the only waterfront hotel in the Greater Williamsburg area.
In 2021, Bowry, along with his investors, became the official owner of the property. They had big renovation ideas, planned in phases over the next few years, but the very first change was to the name.
“I knew this might be controversial with some of our legacy guests who had been coming here for generations,” Bowry said, “But I felt strongly that we needed potential guests to know right off that we are a waterfront hotel; in fact, we’re the only one in the Historic Triangle.”
The next move also turned heads for longtime guests and locals alike. Bowry decided to demolish the restaurant space and create a modern lobby in its place.
“The restaurant facility was in disrepair and needed tremendous work,” Bowry said. “Plus, our parking is limited, and the restaurant was competing with the hotel for available spots.”
Yorktown Beach Hotel now boasts a fully renovated first floor of the main and largest building on the property, new windows along the front façade, a fresh coat of paint, and refurbished pool where the old plastic balcony furniture was swapped out for high-end matching chairs—offering the optimal beach-gazing experience.
“My fiancée, Ferren Wolfe, is an interior designer, and she’s been remarkably important to the renovation,” Bowry said. “Her vision and talent are really making it what it is. I can’t wait to see her ideas for overhauling the guest rooms come to fruition.”
A new breakfast area and market will open soon.
In addition to upgrading the rooms, Bowry said he has high hopes of being able to bring back the rooftop sundeck that was part of the original hotel in the ’70s.
Bowry credits the revived hotel’s success to his team, the community and the County staff.
“I am only a small part of the success we’ve experienced,” Bowry said. “Our team, especially longtime staff members Leelee King and Gill McCauley, have been so tremendously instrumental to our efforts to bring this hotel back to life. County staff has also been very helpful and supportive from the beginning.”
Financial assistance provided by the EDA allowed Bowry to upgrade the windows and replace the balcony chairs. Additionally, Bowry said the many events held at the waterfront help to bolster his business and others by bringing much-needed exposure to the area.
“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 County’s Economic & 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.”