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As of February 9, the former Emerson Inn in Rockport is under new ownership. Located right on the Atlantic Ocean, with sweeping sunrise sea views, the hotel has always captured the charm of yesteryear. This season marks a new chapter in the life of the historic boutique hotel.

The new owner, Kimberly Voltero, aims to restore the hotel to its roaring twenties glory, in what will hopefully be a good season for local travel and staycations. 

“We’re super excited about this opportunity to revive [the inn] back to the way vacations used to be,” says Voltero, “where you got pampered by the sea.” As one of the last grande dame hotels in the area, it has a rich history. Its many visitors of the nineteenth century included Ralph Waldo Emerson. “We’re looking to bring back that ragtime luster,” says Voltero, a Burlington native.

One of her first orders of business will be revamping the expansive outdoor areas. The property’s seaside lawn already gives it one of the largest outdoor spaces of any resort in the area, and that’s a big selling point these days. Voltero hopes to deck out the space with brand new veranda furniture, lawn games, and firepits. The property already boasts a large heated outdoor pool.

The hotel’s restaurant will kick into gear one meal at a time, starting with breakfast, and will eventually serve a whole program of locally sourced cuisine, including lunch, afternoon tea, supper, and evening desserts and cocktails. Voltero hopes to take advantage of the inn’s full liquor license with their charming parlor bar. 

She notes that the previous owners did a wonderful job renovating the guest rooms with individual heating and cooling systems, plus new paint, carpeting, and beds. “So we are spending more of our time bringing back elegance to the downstairs, the public spaces,” says Voltero. One of the hotel’s 36 guestrooms will transition into a wellness space “of some kind,” she says.

Though the hotel’s official opening date for this season is up in the air, Voltero hopes that they’ll be up and running by May, and possibly hosting weddings for some hopeful brides and grooms pending the state of the pandemic. And going forward, Voltero says that she wants the inn to stay open through the holidays. (In previous years they’ve closed for the season in October.)

Voltero says she’s planning a slight name change and will perform a name reveal closer to the opening date, though she notes that she’d like to retain the Emerson component. “I have been quoting Emerson for a long time throughout my life, and now we really get to live in his spirit,” she says.

For the past several years, Voltero, along with owning beachfront property in Gloucester, has served on the tourism council for the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and the Gloucester tourism commission. Seeing the rise in close-to-home travel for many Massachusetts residents this summer was exciting for the future of tourism in the state. “Having Cape Ann back on the map was really fun for everybody,” says Voltero. “If last year is an indicator, then I’m super optimistic that this year will be good.”

“I have been dreaming of owning a hotel my whole life,” says Voltero. When she left her last big job working for Microsoft in Paris and moved to Cape Ann, she began looking for boutique oceanfront hotels in proximity to Boston. So when the opportunity to purchase the Emerson Inn became available, she knew it was meant to be.

“It’s literally a dream come true.”