Photographs by Kristyn Miller
Since 1960, the neon sign declaring “HI-HO” has burned through the night on the side of the Merritt Parkway. Although local residents know the landmark well, few have much reason to head inside. However, a recent transformation of the hotel might draw the curious, and provide a home away from home for visiting friends and family.
At the end of 2014, the property came under the ownership of Workforce Partners. With the guidance of Edward Gormbley and Clayton Fowler, a seven-month renovation began, completely gutting the building and converting it into a spiffed-up boutique hotel.
Carpets, walls, bathrooms; every aspect of the interior has been replaced. High-end toiletries, espresso machines in every room, and hi-def televisions with Netflix capabilities are just some of the amenities that add to the more polished feel.
A concierge service stands at the ready to make dinner and theater reservations, in addition to providing advice on what to see and do in the area. Plans to add a spa in the near future will round out the full experience.
But with all the new interior additions, why was the exterior (and that famous sign) left relatively untouched? Luke Scott, a Hotel Hi-Ho representative, explains, “The goal for the restoration and associated rebranding was to retain the historic character and charm of the motel, original sign included, while modernizing the building, rooms and perception among locals. Hence the name change to Hotel Hi-Ho. Only the ‘Hi-Ho’ portion of the original neon was re-lit, to support these objectives.”
Recently opened in November, the Hotel Hi-Ho is “a boutique hotel, with a unique motel vibe” that is making a good second impression.
Hotel Hi-Ho, 4180 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, (475) 888-9100; hotelhiho.com