Former real estate banker and single mom Debbie Orloff took a leap of faith in 2015 and acquired the first of 3 destination New England roadside motel properties to convert to intimate boutique hotels, launching her Starlight Lodge brand in New England. Her concept was simple: find small tired obsolete mom and pop roadside motels in tried and true resort destinations and breathe new life into them with beautiful renovations and a fresh new marketing approach, to create something new at each location—a phoenix out of the ashes. Orloff was after finding a way to create special luxury stays without a big cost. After purchasing her first hotel in Rockport-Camden in mid coast Maine, followed by Cape Cod and North Conway, Orloff began a multi year renovation plan for each to combine "yesteryear" vibes with modern chic. Pools were rebuilt with heaters added, rooms were modernized, lobbies completely refurbished, systems upgraded, the old and new were fused together and in all locations the hotels would be surrounded by lush landscaped settings that create serene spaces. Keeping prices down was a critical goal so that Orloff would be able to offer rooms to fit most budgets. "We laughed when guests first started calling our hotels "resorts"," says Orloff, " all we could think of were the animals that had been living in attics, headboards made out of fence panels, ‘granny panty' wallpaper we stripped and red shag Carpet we took up!"
Innkeeper couples that were "uber" concierge minded were hired to be live in managers to provide great service and the warmth and intimacy of Inn-like guest experiences. The results have been spectacular and garnered multiple awards at each property in the group including many from Trip Advisor year over year. Oloff's success with her concept has spawned related guest stay rental properties in and around each location un by the hotels and on trend with guest taste in unique stay experiences. While Orloff's style and design palette has been consistent across the properties, no two rooms at any Starlight Lodge are exactly alike and each hotel has its own personality. "We set out to create affordable luxury with chic modern design, yet preserving the Charm of old New England. To do that, we've upgraded the stay experience to a fabulous level, while learning the ins and outs nuts and bolts of running hotels." says the Starlight Lodge originator. "It's been quite an adventure!" adds Orloff who nearly lost everything when COVID policies closed down the hotels. " We survived by doubling down, staying safe, keeping guest safety in mind at all times, and adjusting." Covid relief funds kept the Starlight Lodge hotels alive in 2020, with a quick recovery in 2021 and 2022. "Like explorers before us, there was no going back, the only way through was through but there were a lot of tears...and grit."
Expansion has also been key to the success of Starlight Lodge. In Cape Cod an adjacent law office was acquired and turned into a luxury beachy guest house with summer weekly rentals, a perfect complement for the Cape. In Maine, after adding some Retro RVs to add ‘cool vibe chic' to the property, 3 Acadia National Park region sites, including a harborfront Captain's House, a beachfront "glamping" retreat and a downtown Bar Harbor condo, were bought to take advantage of the spectacular natural wonderland there. In 2023 Orloff bought an art studio and home next door in mid coast Maine and converted it into a luxury Inn with 3 suites, opened as 'The Inn at Starlight Lodge'. And most recently, Starlight Lodge North Conway, in addition to its spectacular formal garden and woodland trails with views of Mt Cranmore, is embarking on a special expansion project too—a White Mountains Lakes Region Vineyard with restoration of a 1794 farmette on 6 acres (The Tory Chamberlain House). Once completed, this will be the newest retreat and rental property in the group and will boast a fabulous location in the Lakes region a few minutes from Lakes Winnepesaukee and Wentworth in Wolfeboro, NH. With that final project, Orloff will have created beautiful vacation properties surrounding Boston in the heart of destination resort locations that have been visited by millions. And prices still are remarkable affordable! Orloff sums it up this way, "Everything I do here at Starlight Lodge hotels is with the guest in mind—we are all about guest experience and nothing less than five Star stays is our goal, every day with every guest. Each day here, it's "showtime"!