To many, Ballard’s Beach Resort is Block Island.
Every year countless people take the ferry over, walk 5 minutes to Ballard’s, spend the day (or several), and then get back on the ferry and head home.
Ballard’s is the reason they come. It’s all they know of the island – for better, or worse.
And it’s no surprise why – Ballard’s is where the party’s at.
Young and old come here for the beach, good food, tiki bars, live music and dancing.
Mackenzie had her bachelorette party here back in 2018!
Now that we’re older with little kids, we don’t get out to Ballard’s much. But my brother-in-law and I have been making it an “end of trip” tradition to grab a Miami Vice at Ballard’s while we wait for the ferry to take us home.
OK, enough about us – without further ado, here’s a Stay New England exclusive interview with Steven – owner and operator of Ballard’s Beach Resort!
Interview with the Owner
// Exclusive Stay New England interview with Steven Filippi, owner of Ballard’s Beach Resort, located on Block Island, Rhode Island //
Hello! Tell us little about yourself.
I’m Steven Filippi, the owner of Ballard’s Beach Resort in picturesque New England.
My summer job combines my passion for hospitality, with the beauty of our coastal paradise.
My responsibilities are diverse and demanding, ensuring that every guest experiences the ultimate seaside getaway. From overseeing day-to-day operations to managing a dedicated staff, I am committed to creating a memorable vacation experience.
My role involves maintaining the resort’s facilities, coordinating events, and ensuring that our guests receive top-notch service.
In truth, being the owner of a beach resort in New England is not just a “summer job”; it’s a year-round commitment.
But I’m passionate about what I do, and I’m dedicated to ensuring that every guest leaves our resort with a sense of awe and a desire to return.
Were you in the hospitality business before? If not, what did you do?
Prior to my active involvement with Ballard’s (since 2006), my career path led me to Hotel Real Estate in Washington D.C.
It was here that I learned about the hotel industry, and all its intricacies.
The pivotal point in my journey occurred in 2003 when I had the privilege of earning a Master’s Degree in Hotel Management from the prestigious Cornell University.
From strategic management, to the art of guest satisfaction, this milestone gave me all the tools I needed to succeed in the world of hospitality.
Cornell provided the bedrock upon which my vision for Ballard’s Beach Resort was built.
What inspired you to open a Beach Resort? Take us through the early days. What was that like?
There was a hotel here dating all the way back to the late 1800s.
My Father, Paul Filippi, purchased Ballards in 1956 and slowly built it into a popular seafood restaurant.
Starting in 2006, I pivoted the business into the beach resort and day club model it is today.
You’re on an elevator. Doors open in less than a minute. How do you describe Ballard’s to the person standing next to you?
Ballard’s Beach Resort is a coastal gem, nestled on the pristine shores of Block Island, off the New England coast.
At Ballard’s, you’ll find a sanctuary of relaxation and adventure. It’s a mix of luxurious accommodations and world-class dining.
Our passion for hospitality shines through in every detail, from the freshest lobster rolls you’ll ever taste to the warmth of our staff who make you feel like family.
Whether you’re seeking a tranquil seaside escape, or an active vacation filled with live music and tiki bars, Ballard’s has it all!
Why Block Island? What makes it such a special place?
While Block Island may not be the classic “party beach” destination associated with round-the-clock clubbing and massive crowds, it offers a unique blend of beachside charm, outdoor adventure, and a lively yet intimate social scene.
Its special character lies in its ability to provide visitors with the best of both worlds – a vibrant summer experience against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful and serene coastal landscapes in New England.
What’s the best part of owning a Beach Resort? The worst part?
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the joy and relaxation of our guests.
Our resort is not just a place to stay; it’s a destination where memories are made, and I take pride in knowing I play a vital role in creating those experiences.
I’m also constantly looking for new ways to enhance our guests’ stay, whether it’s through unique amenities, local partnerships, or sustainability initiatives.
One significant challenge is the unpredictability of the hospitality industry.
Factors like weather conditions, seasonal fluctuations, and even unexpected emergencies can disrupt the smooth operation of the resort.
This means being prepared to handle crises promptly, ensuring the safety and satisfaction of guests.
Additionally, the long hours and the need to be available year-round can be demanding.
While the resort may be bustling during the summer season, there’s also a significant workload during the off-season, including maintenance, marketing, and strategic planning.
Balancing the diverse needs of guests and staff can also be a juggling act.
Ensuring that everyone’s expectations are met, maintaining high standards, and addressing any issues that arise can be emotionally and mentally draining.
Each day presents new challenges and opportunities, and I embrace them wholeheartedly.
What are you most excited about right now with your business?
As the owner of Ballard’s Beach Resort, I am enthusiastic about many aspects of our business:
- Guest Experience: Above all, I am genuinely thrilled about the prospect of delivering unparalleled guest experiences. Each smile, each moment of relaxation, and every delighted review fuel my excitement to continue providing exceptional hospitality.
- Innovation: I’m excited about our ongoing commitment to innovation. We are constantly exploring fresh ways to enhance our guests’ stays, whether through the introduction of new amenities, exciting activities, or sustainable practices.
- Team Development: Our dedicated staff is the backbone of our resort’s success, and I take great pride in watching them succeed. Their dedication to service, their commitment to our guests, and their tireless efforts to maintain our high standards are a constant source of pride.
- Community Engagement: Being an integral part of our local community is of paramount importance to me. I am excited about the opportunity to deepen our engagement, forge meaningful partnerships, and contribute positively to the community that surrounds us.
- Seasonal Shifts: Each change of season brings a unique set of opportunities and challenges. Whether we are gearing up for the bustling summer season, or preparing for the quieter winter months, I am excited about the possibilities that each season holds and the chance to offer distinct experiences to our guests.
- Guest Feedback: The anticipation of receiving positive feedback and heartfelt testimonials from our guests is both humbling and exciting. It reaffirms that our dedication to excellence is paying off, and it motivates us to strive for even greater heights.
- Personal Growth: My role as the owner of Ballard’s Beach Resort is a journey of continuous growth and learning. The opportunity to expand my skills, connect with industry peers, and lead a team of dedicated professionals is a thrilling and fulfilling aspect of my role.
What’s the most unusual/bizarre request you’ve gotten from a guest?
One particular request stands out – a seasoned traveler, known for his eccentric tastes, approached me with a fairly unusual ask.
He wanted a private, moonlit dinner on the beach, accompanied not by our traditional waitstaff, but by a team of fire-dancing performers.
We accepted the challenge and setup an elegant dining arrangement under the stars.
As the evening progressed, our guest was joined by a group of remarkably skilled fire dancers, who choreographed an unforgettable performance.
While this request was certainly unconventional, it underscores our commitment to turning the dreams and fantasies of our guests into reality!
When you next have time off, where will you be?
When I have the luxury of time off from overseeing the day-to-day operations at Ballard’s Beach Resort, I find myself drawn to the essence of our business – the ocean.
As the owner, my responsibilities often keep me deeply engaged with our guests and the resort itself, making any opportunity for true relaxation a cherished one.
My ideal escape usually involves retreating to a quiet coastal location, ideally along the New England shoreline.
Time away also provides a valuable opportunity for reflection and rejuvenation. It allows me to gather fresh ideas, draw inspiration from the natural beauty of the coastal environment, and return to Ballard’s with renewed energy and enthusiasm for creating exceptional guest experiences.
What’s the future hold?
We’ve been here since 1956!
We don’t plan to go anywhere – we just want to get better and better, year after year.