First Class Decor

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 21, 2005

Andy Damiani’s Roundtable Talk Show was taped in a business room of the new Hilton and his guest was the young manager of the 150-room palace on the Nansemond.

Of course, he spoke glowingly of the hotel, potential for Suffolk, and his desire to make the spending of big money, for Suffolk, worth it. I was later guided through a couple of floors to see the operation center, spacious quality rooms, kitchen facilities, and the top drawer conference center.

My guide was the gracious Lynette Brugeman, Director of Tourism, who seems quite attached to the place and should be as she hopes it will house tourists of Suffolk who stay over to experience everything on her guide list.

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Her departments move to the old courthouse on the corner of Main Street and Constance Road makes it convenient to marry the services she and the hotel can provide.

Like Chris Jones sticking to his guns, I stick to mine as a naysayer. I still feel it will take years to fill the rooms and conference center sufficiently to produce &uot;profit.&uot;

And of course the team who put the hotel idea together acknowledged that. They borrowed sufficient money to make the bond payments during the first lean years. The narrow marina could

be a disaster for larger boats, and some views from upper windows will be disappointing.

The view looking south takes in the vista of the cemetery but that will be gone when the river birch trees grow. The view to the east will be satisfactory because of the curve of the river, marsh, and a background of trees.

Not so the view to the north. If I were the &uot;Hotel God,&uot;

I would demolish all the businesses I could see. My guess is the city already has that in mind. That or a 1,000-foot mural with a seascape.

The quality of the entire hotel is way above Suffolk standards and will pull people with the means to live swell. But other hotels up north could be competition and who is to say motel and inn rooms already in place in Suffolk will not serve as alternatives?

And there are a few places to stay to our east in Portsmouth, on an interesting working harbor.

I can visualize the locals socializing while they imbibe beer during the TGIF meets. Where they will all park is a mystery if hotel business is good. Lynette will not get the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center she is banking on as a tourist draw until at least 2007. She can now concentrate on her idea of a river steamer-like paddleboat to run visitors down the Nansemond with a lunch stop at

Mattanock Village. It has merit.

Judging by what I saw, there is no way to open the Hilton by early March.

I saw supplies and equipment piled everywhere, bare mud where there will be sod, employees in training, and construction folks scattered throughout the long halls. One question did come up concerning the conference center.

We were all told that portion of the hotel belonged to the city, us. But the manager of the hotel says it belongs to the hotel. Interesting.

At any rate, the hotel will provide serious competition to the coming cultural center that also hopes to lasso weddings, parties, conference groups.

If both places do as well as they say they expect to do, one or the other might be hurting for some time. Oh well, it’s only money, our money.


A young ventriloquist is touring the clubs and one night he’s doing a show in a small town in Arkansas.

With his dummy on his knee, he starts going through his usual dumb blonde jokes when a blonde in the fourth row stands on her chair and starts shouting: &uot;I’ve heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes.

What makes you think you can stereotype women that way?

What does the color of a person’s hair have to do with her worth as a human being?

&uot;It’s guys like you who keep women like me from being respected at work and in the community and from reaching our full potential as a person.

Because you and your kind continue to perpetuate discrimination against not only blondes, but women in general, and all in the name of humor!&uot;

The embarrassed ventriloquist begins to apologize, when suddenly the blonde yells, &uot;You stay out of this, mister!

I’m talking to that nasty little creep on your knee.&uot;

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at