PETOSKEY, MI – After six decades spent assembling a roster of hotels and restaurants with amazing waterfront views in some of Northern Michigan’s prime vacation spots, Stafford’s Hospitality has announced it’s selling its collection to a Grosse Pointe couple who also owns Mackinac Island’s Hotel Iroquois on the Beach.
The sale to Jon and Lauren Cotton is expected to be completed by early January, Stafford Smith and his equity partners said.
Stafford’s Hospitality properties include:
- Bay View Inn in Petoskey’s Bay View neighborhood
- Perry Hotel in Petoskey
- Crooked River Lodge in Alanson
- The Pier Restaurant in Harbor Springs
- The Weathervane Restaurant in Charlevoix
- Noggin Room Pub in Petoskey
The Cottons and the properties’ new management company, Hotel Investment Services (HIS) in Troy, are already in the early planning stages for renovation work on the properties.
“As a longtime resident of Michigan, I have dined and stayed in these historic establishments many times, and know what each of them mean not only to our state, but also, to their respective communities,” Jon Cotton, a former health insurance company executive, said in a statement announcing the pending sale. “We will be dedicated to maintain the legacy of Stafford’s Hospitality and committed to retain their employees who have played such a key role in the success of these properties.”
The pairing of Cotton and HIS mirrors the arrangement he made in 2020 when he purchased Hotel Iroquois on the Beach, one of Mackinac Island’s well-known resort hotels. Cotton bought it from the McIntire family, who had owned and managed the waterfront hotel since 1954. Many guests and those in the island’s hotel management crowd have given the recent improvements at that property high marks in the last couple years.
Stafford’s Hospitality dates back to 1961 when Stafford Smith and his wife, Janice, made their first hotel purchase: The Bay View Inn, a big Victorian-style inn just steps away from Petoskey’s Little Traverse Bay. It’s an overnight spot with great views, and known for its dining room meals and huge Sunday brunch spreads. As Stafford’s portfolio of lodging and dining spots expanded, it did so with guidance from long-time employees and equity partners including Dudley Marvin, Brian Ewbank, Butch (Christian) Paulsen, David Marvin and Reginald Smith.
“We are proud to have served our guests, our associates and communities of Northern Michigan for over 60 years,” said Stafford Smith, founder of Stafford’s Hospitality. “We are very excited for the future opportunities this transaction presents for our family of associates, our guests and the communities in which our properties are located.”
Ron Wilson, CEO of the HIS management firm that will be overseeing the properties after the sale, called Stafford Smith an “inkeeper’s inkeeper,” saying it’s clear that he’s dedicated his career to the art of hospitality and taking care of his properties’ guests.
“It is a tremendous honor, and responsibility, that we will be standing on the shoulders of one of the great hospitality legacies in Michigan,” Wilson said.
HIS already runs a group of boutique hotels, resorts and banquet facilities. It’s also an approved operator for brands like Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton.