‘The Greatest Story Never Told’: Mount Vernon Founder Bruce Percelay At Bisnow’s Boston Hotel Summit
How are Boston hotels adapting to the needs of a younger populace? Will increased regulation and taxation of the hospitality industry change where and how hotels get built? These questions and more will be on the docket at Bisnow’s Boston Hotel Summit Sept. 19. Register here for the event.
True to its name, the Revolution Hotel is ushering in a new breed of hotel stay. Despite being in the South End, one of the most desirable quarters of Boston, the hotel prices many of its small-format rooms at around $120 per night, a steal compared to its neighbors in Back Bay and downtown that regularly charge triple that amount.
That affordability, as well as the historic and cultural touches that run throughout the Revolution, are the brainchild of Bruce Percelay, founder and chairman of The Mount Vernon Co., one of the largest landlords in Massachusetts, with 1,600 apartment buildings, five hotels and a number of other commercial properties.
Percelay sat down with Bisnow to talk about hospitality in Boston and give us a sneak peek of what he’ll be discussing at our Boston Hotel Summit Sept. 19.
Bisnow: How did the idea for the Revolution Hotel come about?
Percelay: A number of years ago I was asked to participate in the creation of a Boston history museum. It never materialized, but it was a thought that has always stayed in my head. I felt that Boston’s story, in terms of our spirit of innovation, is really the greatest story never told. I viewed this hotel as the opportunity to communicate what I think is a remarkable story.
Bisnow: How is affordability starting to play into hospitality concepts?
Percelay: In terms of price, the hotel business is relatively crowded at the top and relatively empty at the bottom for the simple reason that it’s very expensive to create hotels in the city. There’s almost no opportunity for developers to actually build entry-level priced hotels. So with the Revolution, we wanted to dominate that space. We provide luxury touches, but maintain rates that are within reach for many more people compared to some of our neighbors.
Bisnow: How does location play into the Revolution’s business model?
Percelay: Being in the South End is really one of the biggest assets of the property. The location could sustain a much higher-priced hotel. There’s more restaurants per square foot here than anywhere in the city. It’s walking distance to Back Bay and downtown, there’s public transit, retail. It’s a high-end location, which makes the affordability aspect of the hotel even more attractive.
Bisnow: What’s the most pressing issue for hospitality in Boston?
Percelay: The city needs to keep investing in the promotion of tourism, and be very careful about not overtaxing hotels and hotel guests. The inclination is to view hotel guests as an easy mark for taxes, but it’s important to remember, they spend a lot of money in the city, on dining, shopping; it all multiplies together. We need to do everything we can to encourage people to visit Boston and have repeat visits.
Bisnow: What are you looking forward to at Bisnow’s Boston Hotel Summit?
Percelay: People come to learn at these events, and I have the same objective. I want to hear what my peers are doing, if there are ideas that I can glean from them, and to help them generate ideas from me.
Bisnow: What are you passionate about outside of work?
Percelay: I have too many interests to answer this efficiently. Nantucket is one of my passions. I’ve had the privilege of building a new hospital for the island, and that has really dominated much of the last three years. We were able to raise $120M for the project, which is the largest fundraise of its kind for a community hospital.
From a recreational standpoint, I love boating, I collect American muscle cars, I publish a magazine — that’s a very elaborate hobby.