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Merry Acres' extreme makeover

Entrepreneurs Bo Henry, left, and Stewart Campbell recently finished renovating Merry Acres Inn and Events Center on Dawson Road.

Entrepreneurs Bo Henry, left, and Stewart Campbell recently finished renovating Merry Acres Inn and Events Center on Dawson Road.

ALBANY -- New owners Bo Henry and Stewart Campbell made certain the newly renovated Merry Acres Inn and Events Center complex had every modern accommodation available to guests and patrons.

But it's the past of the historic complex that inspired the pair to purchase it and spend more than $1 million in restoring it to its former grandeur.

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A guest room at Merry Acres Inn and Event Center.

"It was the family-style service and attention to detail by the Doziers and the Stanfills that made Merry Acres unique," Campbell said as he enjoyed a cool breeze provided by overhead fans on the porch of the Merry Acres complex's Manor House during a recent unseasonably warm late-winter afternoon. "That's what attracted us in the first place.

"We wanted to carry on the tradition of those families."

G.G. "Spec" Dozier made Merry Acres Albany's first motel in 1952, building 22 units around the family Manor House. Additional units were added in 1968, 1975 and 1989, when management of the establishment was passed down to Spec Dozier's children, Gerry Dozier and Gail Stanfill.

Henry and Campbell purchased the complex in early 2011 and spent the better part of that year overseeing a facelift befitting the property. Each of the Merry Acres Inn's 110 rooms was completely renovated and filled with new appliances and furniture.

"We made every room unique; everything in each room is new, from the flooring to the beds to the TVs to the vanities and mirrors and lighting ... the linens and towels, everything," Henry said as he showed off several of the renovated rooms, including the two-bedroom, two-bath "Rock House" suite.

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The pool and pool house at the Merry Acres Inn and Event Center.

"With the help of our wives (Kate Henry and Fran Campbell) and (interior designer) Kay Fuller, we made Merry Acres into a southern boutique inn. It's more in the style of the old farmhouse, complete with Southern hospitality."

Added Campbell: "It's now more like a bed and breakfast hotel."

Even with the constant renovations, the Merry Acres Inn did not close for even a day.

"I've never been so stressed because there was renovation work going on all the time," Merry Acres Inn General Manager Cathy Odell, who has been a part of the staff for the past 15 years, said. "What's made this transition easier, though, is that (Henry and Campbell) have the same philosophy about guest services that we've always had. And they kept on our entire staff.

"They've made changes, but they were all positive changes. The rooms are so beautiful, and we've upgraded everything from the linens to the towels to even the soap and shampoo. Those are little things, but we think such details are important."

In addition to upgrades of the 110 guest rooms, Henry and Campbell also renovated the Merry Acres Events Center, which has already hosted a number of business and social gatherings, and they turned the Manor House into a pub that will be the hub of "City Club" activities.

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A FAMILY BUSINESS: From left, Stewart Campbell with son Finn, 3, and wife Fran, with Kate and Bo Henry and their 2-month-old son Hank.

For yearly or monthly fees, a limited number of individual, family or corporate memberships may be purchased that will allow access to the pub and its upstairs gathering rooms and balcony areas, food and beverages prepared at the pub, access to the hotel pool, two yearly club member parties and discounts on hotel stays or event center rentals.

"What we have planned, I think, is going to blow people's minds," Campbell said. "There are so many caveats that people will not get anywhere else. We offer a free drink with check-in, we provide shuttle service, pool and towel service, airport pickup, and we deliver food from all three of our restaurants (Harvest Moon, The Catch and Henry Campbell's).

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Merry Acres Inn and Event Center.

"We guarantee people will have an incredible experience when they stay here. We look at it like we're hosting a party every night."

Kitchen and serving staff will make a breakfast "dry run" during this week and will open the Merry Acres Restaurant to the public for daily breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting in June.

"Merry Acres is a part of Albany's history," Henry said. "We started looking at this complex because of the events center, but everything we do here fits in with what we're doing with the restaurants. And the Dozier and Stanfill families made (Merry Acres) into an institution.

"We moved 30 people who were on staff onto our payroll and added anywhere from 18 to 25 new or part-time jobs. We were able to pull this off because there was already an awesome staff in place. And we used local people to do the work, from Mack Wakeford's architectural design to Kay Fuller's interior design to the construction work as well. We wanted this to stay about Albany."

With the restaurant now set to become fully operational, the Merry Acres complex is on the verge of completion and ready to retake its place as a central part of the Albany experience.

"We've seen a lot of businesses fail over the last few years, but we feel good about what we've done here," Campbell said. "One thing both of our families have learned over the years is that if you give the people of Albany good service, they will support you."

Comments

Moe 2 years, 4 months ago

These people must be stopped. They are trying to create jobs. Call out Judy "Toilet" Bowles and the Code Enforcement slobs to harass them immediately.

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CJ_Fan 2 years, 4 months ago

Moe I think Bo has told Ms. KADB and Code just what he thinks of them. Ride by Harvest Moon on Dawson Road, Bo has put small Flags (too many to count) in the right of way not just a foot like Gieryic’s was but all the way to the street.

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lsbridges 2 years, 4 months ago

LOL, Moe! You are so right. Seriously, Albany needs more business people with vision of Boe Henry and Stewart Campbell. Good job guys, keep the innovations coming.

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whattheheck 2 years, 4 months ago

Continuing the tradition of a very nice, well maintained property--hope it works well, guys!

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Amazed2 2 years, 4 months ago

Gee and they did not even Scam the City Loan program. Well that is obvious because they actually have completed something and hired some folks. Those government loan and subsidy programs are only for the developers to scam the money and never finish what they start. Congrats to Bo and Stuart. Just maybe they qualified for the Mayors Facade program somehow? No on second thought Buie got busted and I dont think the new guy is writing checks so guess these STEWBO guys have done it the old fashion way? Damm I am puzzled this is ALbany

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chinaberry25 2 years, 4 months ago

Good luck to you both and make Albany the proud city it use to be instead of a hovel of crooks. Hopefully this will be a start in the right direction. Better area, still some potential there.

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Gabrielblows 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm very proud to call both of these guys my friends! They represent the hope of Albany's future. Optimistic to be sure!

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 4 months ago

Fantastic news. It's nice to see some home-grown folks doing the right thing. I will be recommending my out of town clients try them out!

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 4 months ago

I spent my wedding night there a few years back. We need to go back and re-christen that room. If I could just remember which room number it was............the best news is that we're still together and still in love...........it's a magical place.

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Justice4Moma 2 years, 4 months ago

I am so proud of these 2 and there Family.They show us that good things are possiable for Albany.And they did it without the help of any Govt.Officals.That is why it will work.You have the special blessings that only GOD can give.GOD BLESS U ALL.

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