Our “The Best Room At” feature offers insight into some of the world’s most charming, luxurious and iconic properties.
When Stacey Solovyov took over the Hotel Chequit on Shelter Island in New York in 2020, she thought the renovation would be a simple job. “A new roof, a paint job, some furniture, and then we would start welcoming guests,” she said. GTC recently. Her ex-husband, Stefan Soloviev, had bought the 150-year-old property at an auction and asked her to oversee it. (Stacey runs Peconic Bay Vineyards and Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm on the North Fork, which Stefan also owns.) “I figured we could tackle some bigger stuff later.”
A first hint that she should change her plans came after the general manager she hired, Ben Levine, moved into the hotel and started calling her late at night. Levine, a veteran of some of hospitality’s busiest institutions — the Delano in Miami Beach, the Surf Lodge in Montauk — was no stranger to the challenge, but she could hear the stress in his voice. “It’s raining inside and the water is cascading down the stairs,” he said on a call. “The lights are flashing and I think this place is haunted,” he said in another.
More Town and Country
“I informed Ben that his three-year contract did not include a ghost escape clause and that he should stay.” Eventually, after an exterior wall nearly opened up during a storm, Soloviev decided to embark on a top-to-bottom renovation that included shoring and adding foundations, replacing all the windows, and complete overhaul of the wiring. Along the way, many unexpected discoveries were made. “We didn’t know the building didn’t have a subfloor until I spilled a glass of water and it immediately spilled into the room below,” Levine said. Soloviev added new floors to the list.
Earlier this summer, the hotel finally reopened. For anyone who has stayed at or even passed by the Chequit, everything will seem familiar. On closer inspection, however, they will find that it is now in pristine condition inside and out and is fitted with modern amenities. We asked Soloviev to tell us a bit more about what it’s like to stay at the hotel.
What do you consider to be the best room in the property and why?
My favorite room is 25, that’s where I stay when I manage to spend a night. It’s a beautiful suite with a lounge area, a large bathroom with bathtub and a very cozy sleeping area. I love that it also has its own private balcony.
How much is it per night ?
Summer weekends start at $2,500 a night.
How would you describe the guests and the atmosphere of the hotel?
We see a lot of familiar faces from the area, as well as people seeing Shelter Island for the first time. Visitors to the North Fork and South Fork eat sushi at our restaurant, Weakfish, or sit in the tavern and enjoy the raw bar. Everyone is surrounded by friends and family and doesn’t want to leave.
What feeling about Shelter Island do you hope to convey to customers?
We want the hotel to be open to both our island neighbors and of course hotel guests. It’s so important that when people come to Shelter Island, they see how special the community and the way of life is. The goal of the restoration was to have a place where customers can really slow down and step back in time while still having the comforts of the present.
What is one thing about the hotel that you think first-time visitors will find surprising?
I think they will be surprised at how many lovely little nooks and crannies there are in the hotel, from our library curated by black cat books to the beautiful sushi bar and restaurant executed by Noah Schwartz and designed by Glen & Co. to the expansive outdoor dining area of our new restaurant, The Tavern. There are tall trees to sit while reading a book and special artwork hidden throughout the hotel.
Do your neighbors have any requests?
One of the best parts of the whole process was hearing all the stories from people who had grown up coming to the hotel for meals and drinks. During an earlier renovation, the previous owners had moved the bar from the current tavern to the back wall. Everyone asked us to make it into a horseshoe shape and move it to the middle of the space and that’s what we did. There was also a dying tree on the outdoor dining patio that everyone loved but had to cut down for safety reasons. I found a similar mature tree at the basement and had it transplanted and the neighbors seem happy about it.
Which local attraction do you always recommend to guests?
We always recommend borrowing a bike and getting lost on the island. You can explore some of its special beaches and the Mashomack Nature Reserve. They can even take a quick ferry ride to our vineyard, Peconic Bay Vineyardson North Fork for wine tasting and vineyard tour in Moke.
Norman Vanamee is the editorial director of City & Country.