"Ashworth by the Sea"
By Betty Gagne
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, October 8, 2003
John Grandmaison is very cheerful these days. He's walking happy, and on his face is a contented smile. Why? Because during the next few months, the Grandmaison family is celebrating 50 years as the owners of the Ashworth By the Sea Hotel.
It's almost hard to picture John as a 13 year old kid working in the hotel, and yet, that's how old he was when he was first employed there. "I worked here when I was real young - like 13, 14, 15 years old. I worked as a busboy in the dining room."
"Did the waitresses share their tips with you?" I asked, curious. He laughed. "I don't really remember, exactly," he said, shaking his head. "But I worked. And as I got older, I worked the front desk."
That was probably some time around the mid-50's, shortly after John's father, Paul, and Paul's brother, Norman, purchased the hotel. Things were somewhat different back then, but you know the old saying: 'The more something changes, the more it stays the same.'
The Ashworth By the Sea Hotel is a classic example of that little tidbit of wisdom. John is excited to be celebrating his hotel's 50th birthday. He speaks highly of his employees, and displays a pleasant camaraderie with his Marketing/Sales Assistant, Kathy Marceau. Together, they have been planning different ways to mark the past fifty years.
"We want people to know it's a reason to celebrate," Kathy says. Kathy, a native of Salem, New Hampshire, grew up as a Hampton Beach day-tripper. "My folks came up here a lot," she said. "I've always loved Hampton Beach. I'm not surprised I ended up working here at the Ashworth."
She filled us in on the details and plans for the 50th anniversary. "The food and beverage managers are currently working on some new menu offerings," she said. The dining room menu primarily focuses on seafood entrees, with choices of beef, chicken and other main dishes on the list. "That won't change," she assured us. "What the chefs are trying is to experiment with some new tastes, like some different, trendy sauces." Kathy is proud to inform us that the Ashworth's Executive Chef, David Foster, has been with the ho tel since 1984. David is a Hampton native who started at the hotel as a dishwasher and has worked his way up through the kitchen. "David is working very hard on the menu changes,"
Kathy said. "He says he's got the recipes in his head," she laughs. David Foster is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, out of Hyde Park, New York, and did his internship at the Ashworth in the early 90's. If you've ever eaten a meal or attended a function there, you can tell that his schooling has paid off immensely.
Probably the most exciting plan for the 50th anniversary so far is the alumni party that is scheduled for November 7th from 7 to 10 pm. John describes it as a "meet and greet kind of thing - a social gathering, really - almost similar to a business after hours." The whole concept of the party is to bring together the past employees of the Ashworth. John and Kathy are trying very hard to get the word out through different channels about the party.
If you know anyone that worked at the Ashworth through the years, you may want to inform them of the upcoming alumni party. John is very excited about it. "We are expecting some employees to attend who worked here in the 1950's and 60's," he said, smiling. "There are some living as far away as California and Texas. People all over the world have heard about the Ashworth," he added.
Hotel guests will be offered some 50th anniversary celebration perks in the way of special lodging packages, which will be offered from October through March of 2004. Rooms will be available at an exceptional rate from Sunday through Thursday evenings, and these double-occupancy packages will include breakfast and dinner. "We're still incorporating other ways and ideas to celebrate," John said.
A Golden New Years Eve celebration awaits those who care to indulge in a party with "some little extra's," Kathy said. "This will be a little more of a celebration than normal," she assured us. The Continentals will he playing in the large ballroom. John said that, "Many people do not know it, but Jack Knox had the Continentals here at the hotel 5 nights a week. That was back in the 70's."
Several New Year's Eve packages, are. available for the guests:
1. New Year's Eve Golden Dinner: This is for people who want to enjoy the Ashworth's special, sumptuous dining fare in the main Dining Room. A special holiday menu will be featured, or you may choose the dinner buffet instead. Dinner will be served until 10:00 pm.
2. New Year's Eve Golden Gala: For a cover charge, you may dance in the Hampton Room to the music of the Continentals, or to DJ Dan Guy in the Breakers Cafe Lounge. Party goes on until 1:00 am.
3. New Year's Eve Golden Gala Escape Package: This is for people who want to ring in the new year at the Ashworth after dining on a full dinner buffet in the main dining room, and want to wake up to a breathtaking ocean view the next morning. The package includes dinner; dancing; overnight accommodations; and champagne breakfast buffet the next morning. And don't worry about being in a hurry to check out; you'll have until 3:00 pm.
For more information about any of the above packages, please call the Ashworth By the Sea at 603-926-6762, or log on to www.ashworthhotel.com.
The Ashworth By the Sea Hotel has been the most glamourous hotel on Hampton Beach since it was built in the early 20th century. Won't you take some time to celebrate the last 50 years of it's existence with the Grandmaison family?