Business of the week: Harbor Light Inn

Are you looking for a place in town to recommend to family and friends coming to visit? Or, maybe you’re trying to find somewhere to have a staycation? Marblehead’s Harbor Light Inn could be just the right place.

Harbor Light Inn’s story began in 1985 when Peter and Suzanne Conway purchased the property at 58 Washington Street. Six years later, they purchased the building next to it and expanded the inn.

Their daughter, Carolyn Pyburn, took over the inn from her parents as general manager in 2014. At the time she was working at the Four Seasons Resort in Maui.

“One of my parents talked about possibly selling one day, I just thought that would be heartbreaking,” Pyburn said. “They put so much work into this and I’m so proud of it for them and I just couldn’t have imagined them selling it, so I was more than happy to come back.”

Now, Pyburn runs the inn’s day-to-day operations. She said a lot of changes have been made since 1985.

“This place is a constant revolving door, not only of people coming in but of work to be done,” Pyburn said.

Since it opened, the Harbor Light Inn has had a pool and garden installed. About 10 years ago the tavern was added, which is open not just to guests, but also to the public.

Every year a few rooms are renovated, and Pyburn then redecorates them. Her inspiration while decorating comes from her desire for the inn to match the town’s aesthetics.

“You don’t want to put in this super modern place in downtown historic downtown Marblehead. That wouldn’t make sense, it wouldn’t fit,” Pyburn said. “And so trying to keep things traditional in a sense, but adding monitored amenities.”

Each of their 20 rooms are different. Some have twin beds while others have a queen-size bed, and everything from bedside lamps to curtains are unique to each room.

“We don’t have one category of rooms where every room in that category is the same,” Pyburn said. “Every room is handpicked, decorated and has different style, different bathroom layouts, I mean truly everything.”

Because of this, guests can book an exact room number. Whether you want a fireplace, a private sundeck, a king-size bed or all three, Harbor Light Inn will no doubt have what you are looking for.

Harbor Light also offers five fully furnished apartments up the street from the main inn.

Harbor Light Inn also provides a full breakfast every morning, which is included in the room price.

Rates for the rooms depend on the time of year, she said. Pyburn said June through October is when the inn is busiest.

“The winter midweek rates might start at $159 [a night] … and then they’ll go up to, let’s say, $299,” Pyburn said. “In the summer and fall, a completely different story. So midweek might start at $299 and then go up to $499, and then on weekends it’s more. Octobers, it can get into the $500s.”

What sets Harbor Light Inn apart from other hotels and inns is the fact that it is a family business. This is reflected by the art throughout the inn, which was created by family members.

Pyburn said what she loves most about the inn business is how everyday is different, with new people to meet constantly.

“I’ve created wonderful relationships with some of our guests that come in every year,” Pyburn said. “And then for me personally, just getting to run a business that my parents started and that I’m so immensely and deeply proud of because of all the hard work that they put in. I feel lucky, I came into a well-oiled machine, and I get to just continue it and try not to mess it up.”