Ashworth Changes Hands

By Scott E. Kinney, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, May 5, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]

The Ashworth by the Sea
(Courtesy photo)

HAMPTON -- After 52 years at the helm, the Grandmaison family has sold one of Hampton Beach's premier hotels.

Dunbar Hotel LLC of New Hampshire, an affiliate of Scleicher and Stebbins Hotels, has purchased the Ashworth by the Sea hotel from the family. The sale of the hotel was scheduled to close Tuesday, May 2. The hotel will continue to operate under its current name.

John Grandmaison, who co-owns the hotel with his uncle Norman and their wives Joyce and Patricia, said they were looking to make a change in the operation of the hotel. He added it was important to find someone that would continue in the hotel's storied traditions. Grandmaison said he expected few changes to the hotel and all the employees have the option to continue their employment.

"This is somebody who is going to represent the hotel well," Grandmaison said.

Grandmaison, now 65, said he is looking forward to leaving the day-to-day operation of the hotel to someone else.

"Running a hotel is a complicated business," said Grandmaison. "It's not for the lighthearted."

He said he plans to enjoy his retirement.

Both John and Norman Grandmaison continue to have ownership interests in the Hampton Beach Casino.

"We're still going to be involved in Hampton," said Grandmaison.

Built in 1912 by Colonel George Ashworth, the Ashworth by the Sea was one of the first hotels on Ocean Boulevard. Over the years, thousands of New England families and visitors have enjoyed this seaside escape.

Paul Grandmaison, who was originally general manager, and his brother Norman first leased the Ashworth in the fall of 1953, and went on to purchase it in the summer of 1954. The two brothers operated the hotel seasonally for the next 15 years and in 1969 opened its doors for year-round operation. Paul's son, John Grandmaison, joined the Ashworth management team in 1975.

A large expansion with a new building doubling the size of the property in 1980, and a complete renovation of the original building in 1986, brought the Ashworth to its current appearance.

"It's an interesting property," said Grandmaison. "We accomplished a lot here and we're pleased with how it has developed. It's something we take pride in."