The Ice Palace Resort and Grove Hotel Sell for $7.2M Amid FI Sales Boom

The famed Ice Palace nightclub and recently rebuilt Grove Hotel — the largest hotel on Fire Island — sold for $7.2 million as a wave of sales washes over the beach’s hospitality sector.

The popular resort’s July 12 sale puts it among a third of the dozen hotels, boatels and bed and breakfasts on the barrier island to recently either be sold or put on the market. The trend dovetailed with the local residential real estate market seeing a spike in transactions as New York City residents fled to the region to escape the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years.

“The hospitality market is hot right now,” said Mitchell B. Muroff, a Long Island native who leads Boston-based Muroff Hospitality Group, which brokered this deal and regularly handles hotel sales nationwide.

Grove Realty Enterprises, Inc. sold the resort property on Ocean Walk to Bowline Hospitality V, LLC after it had been on the market for about a year, during which time the prior owners had entertained multiple offers, said Muroff, who represented the seller and secured the buyer. Representatives of neither prior owner Frank Liguori nor Bowline could be reached for comment.

“The prior owner is a veterinarian who has been in business 15 years and is retiring to spend more time with his wife and daughter,” Muroff said.

“The new owners are three partners — three young men in their mid-30s — who own [four] other resorts,” Muroff said. Bowline owns resorts in St. Thomas, Marathon, Fla. and two in Key West, which the broker notes is similar to Cherry Grove in that it’s a seasonal market with an LGBTQ community.

Photo via the gallery on restore website.

The Ice Palace, which boasts FI’s largest dance floor and one of the largest swimming pools on the seashore, has been the hub of nightlife since the 1950s in what’s dubbed “America’s first gay and lesbian town.” The Grove Hotel was rebuilt after it burned down in a 2015 fire that also destroyed the neighboring Holly House apartments. The original hotel, known as Perkinson’s, dates back to 1885.

With 63 rooms, the Grove Hotel is considered by industry standards a boutique hotel — loosely defined as less than 100 units — but can accommodate the most guests of any hotel on FI.

The Grove Hotel transaction follows the 2020 sale of the Fire Island Hotel on Cayuga Walk in Ocean Bay Park. That property — with 40 rooms, it’s the third-largest hotel on FI — is now known as the Fire Island Beach House. The sale price of that transaction was not clear. The prior owner had run the business for three decades.

FIBH wasn’t the only local hotel to change hands in 2020. Lighthouse Shores LLC bought the Fire Island Boatel on Lighthouse Walk in Kismet for $1.95 million from seller Midee Shores Corp., Long Island Business News reported. With 10 rooms, it’s one of the smallest of its kind on FI, but not the smallest — that distinction goes to the five-room Pines Bluff Overlook in Fire Island Pines.

Last November it was announced that The Palms Hotel Fire Island in Ocean Beach was also up on the market. The listing is being held by Fire Island Sales & Rentals in cooperation with Acadia Lodging Brokers and Advisors. The Palms Hotel is presently owned by the same parent company as Fire Island News.

Just down Cayuga Walk from the FIBH, Flynn’s — although not a hotel, it is arguably the most well-known restaurant on Fire Island and has its own marina for boat-owning patrons looking to stay overnight — was also put up for sale in 2019 for the first time in its eight decades in business. The asking price was $14.5 million. A buyer has yet to emerge.

Like FIBH, the new owners of Grove Hotel plan to begin a series of renovations and upgrades in the off season to ensure that the iconic resort remains the premier destination on Fire Island for years to come, according to Muroff. While the Grove Hotel reopened in 2018 and is still relatively new, a recent visit to the sprawling Ice Palace property revealed that the beloved space is showing its age after decades of packing in crowds of revelers and could use some touching up to return it to its former glory. Patrons can look forward to a new and improved Ice Palace in spring of 2023.

Who will be the next hotel owners on Fire Island to pack their bags and turn over the keys to a new occupant?