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Whirlwind makeover begins

(June 14, 2013) Filming started Monday for the four-day makeover of the Lankford Hotel on Eighth Street by the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible” crew.

The group planned to spend four days overhauling the historic hotel for an episode of the show, set to air later this season.

Since its inception in 1924, the Lankford Hotel has been a family-run business. Not much has changed over time, said third-generation owner Sally Rutka.

Her guests return year after year, often staying in the same room on the same weekend. Like the hotel ownership, guests span three generations.

“Most of our clientele are repeat guests,” said Rutka’s daughter and co-manager Mary David. “That’s our biggest problem.”

David, who applied to be on “Hotel Impossible” in February, hopes the show will help the business draw new guests in a resort town with scores of hotel options, including those with amenities such as Jacuzzis and swimming pools that the Lankford lacks.

The challenge will be to keep the hotel’s historic roots throughout the updates, said “Hotel Impossible” co-host and interior designer Blanche Garcia.

The goal of the show is to give hotel owners a roadmap to greater prosperity, she said.

“It’s like a crash course,” Garcia said, “but we try to give them everything, all the tools they need, to move forward,” including administrative advice as well as cosmetic renovations.

Since it first aired in April of 2012, “Hotel Impossible” and its host, Anthony Melchiorri, have seen more than 25 struggling hotels around the world restored. About 80 percent of hotel owners have heeded advice offered on the show, Garcia said.

In tackling the Lankford, the “Hotel Impossible” crew recruited local workers, including the three-camera film crew, electricians and fleet of about 20 workers under the direction of Ocean City contractor Joe Dashiell of Joseph T. Dashiell Builders. They also sourced local materials.

Dashiell has renovated other Ocean City hotels, including the Wilmington Terrace and Boardwalk Terrace, but “this is the first time we’ve done something like this,” he said.

“The big difference is we have four days to do it,” Dashiell said.

He was contacted by the Travel Channel to be part of the renovations, which include exterior painting and general “sprucing up” on the inside and outside of the Lankford Hotel, he said.

He hopes the project will help Rutka and her co-manager daughters David and Sara Rutka-Karst boost business, “and to show other (local) hotel owners what could be done.”

The crew is keeping details of the renovations secret — even from Rutka and her daughters. The outcome will remain between hotel staff and guests until the episode of “Hotel Impossible” airs in late August or early September.

Co-host of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible” Blanch Garcia stands between Matt Greenhalgh, left, and Joe Dashiell of Ocean City’s Joseph T. Dashiell Builders on a break from filming at the Lankford Hotel on Monday.



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