This Delaware native earned top marks in hotel management

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Gray

Delaware native Benjamin Gray is making a splash in hospitality, winning a national award from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Benjamin Gray grew up like many Sussex County residents. He worked at Grotto Pizza, starting as a dishwasher and eventually becoming the manager of Grotto Grand Slam. A graduate of Seaford High School, Gray met his wife, Sydney, at Arena’s Deli and Bar in Lewes.

“I’ve always loved the restaurant industry, but then I had the opportunity to go to hotels… I really never looked back,” says Gray.

After high school, Gray’s plans were to become a lawyer. That was really all he wanted to be. “My only other option was to be a minister,” he says.

He attended law school in Florida and graduated, although he says “it really wasn’t for me.”

Gray then applied for a position as a night auditor at a Hilton hotel. It was part-time but soon he landed a full-time role. “It was good, and I knew it was what I wanted to do,” he says.

After interviewing the vice president, Gray was appointed general manager of a new hotel in Indiana. It was November 2011, and the hotel Gray now managed was double-booked for the upcoming 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

“I landed in November and had until February to figure out how to handle this,” he says. “I learned a lot through this process.”

His legal background came in handy as he was able to renegotiate the NFL contract and find suitable rooms for others. “It was a home run for me,” he said.

Gray then ran hotels in New York before returning to Rehoboth Beach.

“I knew I wanted to raise my family here,” he says.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Gray

He had the opportunity to work with EOS Hospitality at the venerable Bellmoor Inn and Spa which he purchased in 2010. Originally the Dinner Bell Inn, which opened in the 1930s, The Bellmoor only had only two owners, EOS being the third.

“EOS believes in its properties so much that it is willing to invest in them and invest in its success,” says Gray.

When COVID hit, The Bellmoor team was hit hard. One of their long-time beloved employees quickly fell ill and passed away.

“It was an incredibly difficult time for us. We decided we were going to do everything we could to make The Bellmoor safe for our customers and our team,” says Gray.

Gray then served on the governor’s task force for the hospitality industry, working with leaders across the state to find ways to reopen.

At the same time, EOS had the opportunity to purchase two hotel properties in Bethany and continue the renovations. The Bethany Beach Ocean Suites and The Bethany Hotel are both managed by EOS and Gray and now have big plans for their future.

And renovations continue at Bellmoor, preparing it for the 2022 summer season.

“It’s been a tough few years for everyone in the hospitality industry, but I’m really proud of how we all came together, worked together, and created something we can all be proud of,” Gray said. .

His work has not gone unnoticed and in January 2022 he received the Outstanding General Manager of the Year (Small Property) award from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Gray accepted the award on behalf of EOS Hospitality and the 180 staff working at the three Sussex County properties.

“The hospitality industry is resilient. We can quickly respond to challenges,” says Gray. “I am proud of everything we have done during this pandemic. We are part of the community and strive to support our employees and others in our industry. We had one of the best summers in Sussex County in 2021 and I’m sure we’ll be set for an amazing 2022 season.”

Learn more about EOS Hospitality: eoshospitality.com/about.

In numbers

The Bellmoor Inn and Spa
78 rooms, 53 interior and 25 with exterior entrances
12 suites over 1,000 square feet each
A child-free floor for a quiet experience
Restaurant and bar reserved for hotel guests
6 Christian Street, Rehoboth Beach; 227-5800; thebellmoor.com

Bethany Beach Ocean Suites
112 rooms
Restaurant and bar, 99 Sea Level, open to hotel guests and the public
On the Bethany Beach Boardwalk
Full renovation plans coming next year
99 Hollywood Street, Bethany Beach; 539-3200; marriott.com/en-us/hotels/rehri-bethany-beach-ocean-suites-residence-inn/overview

Hotel Bethany
101 rooms
Currently being renovated and upgraded to be completed in April 2022
Offers room service and golf outings with a nearby golf course
39642 Jefferson Bridge Road, Bethany Beach; 541-9200; hotelbethanyde.com

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