“He’s Scottish, I’m Scottish by name. He blew out his left ACL playing soccer, I blew out my ACL playing soccer. We’re both type-A personalities and we’re going to go head to head I’m sure, but that’s what people love about it,” said MacDougall.
Ramsay, who also stars in “Hell’s Kitchen,” now in its 11th season, will bring his filming crew to town from May 16-20. According to the Fox network, the unscripted show’s aim is to fix some of America’s most horrendous hotels, troubled inns and struggling resorts. The network says the show was last summer’s biggest unscripted network hit, and encourages the local community to book a room or a dinner table during the days it’s in Dover.
As a business owner, MacDougall says the show will help him assess problems with his inn, as well as set up a business plan to accomplish his goals. “They (the show) bring in restaurant and business consultants, and come up with a business plan, all on their dime. It’s a humbling experience to have them come in.
There’s certain things I know I need help on, and certain things you have to give on, and certain things we definitely won’t give on.”
Bringing “Hotel Hell” to Dover began when Phillip Gilpin Jr., owner of Green Mountain Vermont Marketing Group, got a call from Fox, inquiring about any area inns or hotels interested in participating. Gilpin thought MacDougall fit the bill, a perfect candidate and inn to focus on.
“The way the producer phrased the question was with the focus on which of the innkeepers has a really great and unique character?” said Gilpin. “Who is in a situation where they wouldn’t mind being spotlighted?”
Gilpin recommended MacDougall, who jumped at the chance. “Anyone who knows me knows I’m about 80% crazy and 20% passionate, so I jumped right on board, and from there it’s morphed into a really good thing,” said MacDougall.
According to MacDougall, the Four Seasons has seen its share of hard times since Tropical Storm Irene. Before the flood, MacDougall says his inn served 400-600 meals in five nights, but has not come close since. “People may say people are back from the flood, but no, we don’t have the people coming back every summer,” said MacDougall “Hopefully when Ramsey comes he can address that.”
One thing that will change is the addition of a bar to the restaurant. Currently MacDougall has a bring-your-own-bottle policy that he says helps customers enjoy a great meal without paying $50 for drinks.
The staff of the Four Seasons Inn has been in full gear in preparation, and while MacDougall can bring in summer help, he is not allowed to perform any work on the building or its grounds, from painting to planting flowers.
Built to accommodate 112 restaurant customers and sleep 52, MacDougall bought the Four Seasons in 2011, and planned on reaching his goals within five years. MacDougall says Ramsay will be a welcome voice.
Dover Economic Development Specialist Ken Black says that the show will also serve the town, with the network staff filling local restaurants and inns, and giving the town national exposure. “This gives Dover a significant amount of circulation,” said Black. “A lot of people watch that program, and the old saying goes, any news is as good news.”
Last season, “Hotel Hell” visited Juniper Hill Inn in Windsor, and according to Windsor Town Manager Tom Marsh, the show provided notoriety and business. “We saw a number of benefits,” said Marsh. “We had 50 local hotel rooms booked for their crew for two weeks, and they went out of their way to purchase local products from coffee and lunch to a local barbecue eatery used to cater.”
Marsh said the town’s website also received an increase of traffic, from their monthly average of 2,500 ballooning to 15,000 hits in August, the month the Juniper Hill episode aired. “From watching the show it was not a lot of coverage of the town of Windsor itself, but what they did show was flattering.”
To MacDougall, the show will also showcase a part of the country people should know about. “What we have here no one else has in this world, people travel from California to come here to get away. If you come here once you fall in love with it, you visit twice you want to live here.”
The Four Seasons Inn episode of “Hotel Hell” should air in the fall, and anyone interested in booking a dinner or a room during filming should send an email to HotelShowFourSeasons@gmail.com.