Peter and Cecilia Rait, owners of the Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro, are scheduled to sell the Charles Street business and building to the Saunders Hotel Group at noon today, December 22.
The decision to sell came partly from the Raits’ idea that they were still young enough to explore other possibilities.
“We still have time for there to be another chapter,” said Peter Rait, 57. (His wife is aged 50.) “Neither Cilla nor I know what that chapter will be. We don’t have the great American novel planned. We’ll take a little break and then we’ll see.”
Rait admitted that it was “a pretty emotional week for us.” Meanwhile, though, he was planning the staffing for Christmas week.
“The next step is having the restaurant ready tomorrow morning,” he said. “I can’t look beyond the next step. I’m not prophetic.”
The Raits renovated the building and established the 13-room hotel and French-style restaurant 15 years ago. During that time they have lived around the corner on Beacon Street and added three children, Jacob, 15, and Max and Emma, aged 13, to their family. With the children all at Boston Latin School, they don’t plan to move from the neighborhood.
For the Saunders family, including a Beacon Hill property in their portfolio of local hotels is returning to their roots. Jacob Saunders lived at 41 Anderson Street in the late 1800s after immigrating from his native Lithuania. He began to invest in real estate. His descendants established the hotel business in 1940, and now the family’s fourth generation, including Alexander J. Saunders, vice president of planning and development, has entered the business, the flagship of which is the Lenox Hotel in the Back Bay.
Alexander Saunders, 28, is one of the faces with whom Beacon Hill neighbors will soon become familiar. He and Dan Donahue, managing director of the Lenox Hotel, will manage the transition, assisted by Brendan Griffin, hotel manager at the Lenox.
“It’s perfect for us,” said Saunders. “It’s smaller than what we’re used to, but it’s right in our ballpark in terms of location and a restaurant.”
Any changes they make will be small and done slowly. The current staff will remain.
They will freshen up the hotel on a room-by-room basis with new televisions and mattresses and some redecorating. In August, they intend to close the restaurant to install a kitchen with new equipment and give the restaurant a redesign.
“We’re not rushing,” said Saunders. “We’ll talk to the community and get a feel for what people want. It’s cool to be coming back to where it all started.”