We understand and cherish authenticity, and we know that Block Island is unique in the world.
Truly a destination unto its own, in Block Island we recognize our opportunity to become a part of a community and experience that has been defined over generations. We will strive to learn and understand how we can tailor our approach and methods for providing world class travel experiences to align with, support, and hopefully strengthen a community that cherishes, despite the challenges of island life, this compelling and unique destination.
As the new owners of Champlin’s Marina & Resort, we know that this is an iconic opportunity for showcasing the culture, spirit, and beauty of Block Island. We know that our location on the beautiful shores of the famed Great Salt Pond come with a responsibility to help maintain and protect this fragile and impressively important natural resource.
At TPG Marinas, we always begin and end our thinking with the Guest. This is who we work for and ultimately who defines our process and, more importantly, our success. We consistently remind ourselves that it is the Guest who drives our decisions and our approach.
Block Island has been welcoming guests for well over 100 years and Champlin’s for more than 70 years. It is our responsibility to understand that appeal and to build our approach to Champlin’s future around that clear and well-travelled path.
We consider ourselves experts in hospitality but students of Block Island. We have already begun important conversations with the thousands of boaters and travelers who have called Champlin’s and Block Island their own. We are also working hard to build relationships with our new neighbors who seek to hold on to the authenticity of their island home while ensuring the stable and measured growth of travelers who want to share in what is a day in the life of the one and only Block Island.
As we understand it, Champlin’s Marina and Resort has humble roots as part of what was once a very large farm. This almost nine-acre plot along the famed shores of the Great Salt Pond then became part of the US Navy’s effort to monitor post World War ll activity for the protection of U.S. shores with a small pier for its scouting vessels. Soon after came the Pier 76 nightclub (now our main hotel building) and as the decades transpired the eclectic collection of buildings and amenities evolved into what is Champlin’s today.
Champlin’s new ownership now affords the opportunity to implement improvements and changes that we believe will align, support, and strengthen the appeal of the destination and experience that is Block Island. Following, is our current list of already ongoing plans for improving and growing what is Champlin’s Marina & Resort.
Repairs & Maintenance: The docks of Champlin’s are in great need of general repairs and maintenance. Most of this important work will not be obvious to the casual observer, but the structural and electrical repairs and upgrades will ensure the safety of our guests at our docks or those enjoying Champlin’s famous Mudslides at the Dock Bar.
Usage Modification: Rafting has been a big part of the utilization of the docks at Champlin’s in years past. We hope to end that practice from here forward for a greatly improved boating experience. Consequently, we are seeking approval to modify how we dock vessels on the outer flanks of the trident that make up the marina configuration using a modified med-mooring system that allows boats to dock stern-to, and alight onto wooden floating docks that adjoin the fixed pier. Following are two simple diagrams showing the previous rafting configuration versus our modified med-mooring approach. While it may reduce, from a practical perspective, the number of boats we are able to accommodate, we strongly believe that these changes will improve not only the boater experience but also the health and safety of our guests.
The Dock Bar (aka Trader’s): A staple for boaters and landlubbers alike, this over-the-water bar is world famous (and sometimes infamous) for great times, great people and great Mudslides. Literally generations of Champlin’s patrons have memories of endless summer nights at this famous Dock Bar overlooking the Great Salt Pond. If there is one thing we have learned in our conversations with past guests, it is this: “DON’T MESS WITH THE MUDSLIDES!!!” We promise we won’t! We are however making some other changes and improvements. We are finishing the bar on the top deck and reconfiguring the bar downstairs. This means easier access to your bartenders and even better seats for enjoying the view. Some fresh paint, a new sound system, and renovated restrooms will also add to the enjoyment. We will continue to showcase live music and will work to expand that portfolio of talent. We will also be working to start the party a little earlier so we can turn down the lights and music a bit earlier in consideration of boaters at our docks and also those on the hook in The Pond.
All hotel rooms have been completely gutted in preparation for an impressive make over that we expect to delight our guests who choose to call Champlin’s home for a day, a weekend or a month. We have renamed all of the buildings to evoke our maritime history. So, next time you’re here ask to stay in the Crow’s Nest, the Upper Deck, Midship, Pier 76 or the Galley House. We expect to have model rooms ready for presentation by March 1 st and look forward to having sneak previews soon with those hearty souls who call Block Island home year-round – stay tuned!
We strive to be the best. The best for our guests, the best for our stakeholders and critically - the best for our team. Champlin’s is fortunate to be able to host a large number of our team on property each season. We believe that the quality and appeal of those accommodations should promote a level of comfort that allows that team to focus on providing the best service and experience possible. We are in the process of refurbishing each room, installing improved fixtures and furniture and brightening up those spaces with fresh paint and floor coverings. We are nothing without our team and look forward to welcoming their return this spring with updated team quarters.
The convergence of docks with upland is always a critical juncture in the experience of a marina. At Champlin’s, this space is a literal epicenter of activity for Champlin’s guests. We aim to enhance that experience and are undertaking a major reprogramming of the buildings and outdoor space in this area. There are two buildings at the head of the main pier that flank the outdoor space that we will be calling the Plaza. The building that previously held the arcade, the office and the coffee shop will now become what we are calling the Café Boutique. We are expanding the entire space into a breakfast and lunch café that will also host a boutique shop featuring the works of local artisans and craftspeople along with all of your favorite Block Island and Champlin’s-branded merchandise. This space will flow out into an enhanced patio / plaza area with lounging and tables areas for enjoying your breakfast and lunch, set amidst new landscape and hardscape finishes. There will also be firepits and hammocks interspersed for enjoying a glass of rosé or a cold beverage as afternoon turns to evening.
The building across from the old office is a quaint little hut of sorts that previously held the grocery store. Essential sundries and supplies will still be available over in the Boutique, while this tiny gem of a waterfront building will become exclusively an ice cream parlor. Nothing says summertime more than taking the kids for an ice cream cone… especially if you can enjoy your ice cream lounging around the waterside in the landscape-refurbished Plaza with your friends and family.
As noted previously, we are putting a large focus on the grounds and outdoor spaces. We are moving parking and waste receptacles away from the waterfront and repurposing those areas with seating and lounge areas, fire pits, hammocks, a dog park and more. We will be adding plenty of plants and trees and installing a property wide irrigation system for ensuring they all remain green and bright throughout the summer. The lush natural beauty of Block Island will become an even larger part of the Champlin’s experience.
While we won’t be able to make this happen until next year (2022), we are excited enough about it that we will share our plans now… As the island’s only pool, this is a popular and important amenity for all of our guests. We will be enhancing the entire pool and pool--deck area for more lounging and seating while enjoying poolside service of cocktails and snacks from our waterfront restaurant right next door.
The natural beauty and allure of Block Island has enchanted and welcomed generations of island goers as a place to gather and celebrate life and its adventures. The rolling hills of Champlin’s almost nine-acre complex provide a stunning overlook of The Great Salt Pond and combined with our capacity for hosting hundreds, makes for a stunning destination to hold your wedding or special event. Our renovations and upgrade plans include a specific focus on catering to those seeking to gather friends, families and colleagues for events and parties big and small.
While the casual café fare at our Café Boutique will serve you well for breakfast and an active lunch, the Galley House waterfront dining makes an excellent spot for languid lunches and eclectic evenings of culinary delights. This year, this beach and pool side dining spot will get a light freshen-up of paint and furniture with a new and enhanced menu focused on seafood and local Rhode Island fare. Next fall as we install our new infinity pool, this space will undergo a major transformation in both look and feel. Updates on designs and plans for this important part of the Champlin’s experience will be forthcoming.
In 1991, the Nature Conservancy named Block Island one of the last great places in the Western Hemisphere. The Block Island communities’ approach to land use, conservation, and investment in sustainable infrastructure like the country’s first offshore wind farm for electricity generation make it easy to understand why. It is our goal to support that ongoing effort in every way we can and one of those items on our task list is work with the Town of New Shoreham to find ways that Champlin’s can effectively take advantage of this sustainable energy source.
We know that WIFI is like hot water – if we don’t have it for you, you’re not going to be happy! The beauty and charm of remote isles such as Block Island is that they are just that – remote. Consequently, infrastructure and the systems it supports that we often take for granted on the mainland can be hard to come by on places like Block Island. The Town of New Shoreham is currently undertaking a major communications upgrade for Block Island with the installation of an island-wide fiber optic network, but completion of that system is not expected until later this fall. For this season we are investing in a point-to-point radio system that will significantly improve our internet connectivity at Champlin’s until we can leverage the new island fiber optic system.
As you can see, we have lots of plans and aspirations for where Champlin’s goes as an important part of the community of Block Island and just as importantly for you as our guests. With a mantra like ours – “Be the best!” – those plans for improving and growing never stop. It’s the exciting combination of our team, our community, and our guests along with the fragile beauty of the island and its waters that will allow us to truly succeed and lead as a part of the community. We will continue to seek guidance, critique and direction from anyone who can help us be the best.