Boss wants Fauchere like a friend's home

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:06

    MILFORD - General Manager, Michael DiLonardo says the soon to be reopened Fauchere Hotel will be a place to make people feel at ease, and he appears to be the kind of guy who can pull it off. Despite the opulent elegance of the multi-million dollar renovation of the Broad Street landmark, his goal is for a visitor’s impression to be “like visiting the home of a dress codes, more like the feeling of a European country inn.” Looking at 55 year-old DiLonardo’s resume as a chef in some of the best hotels and inns in this country and as a manager of highly rated resorts in Europe and Southeast Asia, its’ easy to picture a man comfortable with dress codes and fancy hotels. But that picture is definitely not the whole picture. DiLonardo is also a hands-on guy. Walking into the Emmerson House, which adjoins the Fauchere and will serve as a space for its catered events and meetings, we found cleaning staff at work and asked for DiLonardo. “That’s me,” said a man on his knees before the fireplace, working on its gas connections. Rising from his work and graciously apologizing for creating a different image for hotel general manager, the conversation moved to his upstairs office. He said the stereotypical conception of him was not unusual. “People picture a European. I grew up North Plainfield; went to college in Pennsylvania.” He studied to become a teacher but, “I realized I didn’t know anything, so I decided to travel to get educated.” He’s since “circumnavigated” the globe in his work, New York City, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Indonesia, Thailand, Italy and Switzerland. He spent 10 years in Southeast Asia managing resorts owned by the Aman Group in Phuket, Thailand and Moyo Island, Indonesia. More recently he was first manager of the Vigilius Mountain Resort in the Italian Alps, which was named to the Conde Nast “Top New Hotel” list in 2004. “I’m the first American (general manager) ever to open a hotel in the Alps,” he said. He also found his roots in Italy, in the small village of Tessennano, where half of the 400 inhabitants “are my relatives.” He bought a home there and still considers it his “home base.” But there are also roots here. For the past 15 years, DiLonardo has teamed with his wife Jennifer Hazen. “I run the hotel. She does the spa.” Hazen is a native of Henryville in Monroe County and family is part of the reason that DiLonardo chose to come to Milford. His two children, ages 12 and 14, had never been to America and they still have four sets of great-grand parents living in Marshalls Creek and Tannersville. “It’s been good for them to meet and know them. The kids love Milford. They say their teachers don’t shout at them.” DiLonardo wants the Fauchere to be appealing for Tri-State area clientele, but he also realizes that the hotel will need to draw from the metropolitan area. For those people, he wants to use the region’s resources to create an experience, different from tourism, for each visitor. “In Italy, there was a man who made the wooden yokes for church bells. People were fascinated watching him. In Indonesia, the natives fish with a line tied to their toe and lay back and wait. They loved that.” DiLonardo says he’s only begun to look for these kinds of unique interests here. “It’s not enough to go on holiday anymore. You have to make an intellectual contribution to people’s lives. Maybe it will be forest, a canoe, trip, or just a place to go swimming in the middle of nowhere.” Then there’s the food. “It’s going to be simple, fresh, but still something that a city palette will appreciate. One of the hallmarks of a restaurant is how you roast a chicken” “Of course we’re going to have to do something with Lobster Newburgh,” which was a signature dish of the Fauchere. He concluded, “But I don’t want the misconception that this will be snooty place. It’s going to be a regular place where Milford people can feel at home and New Yorkers can get into the spirit of Milford. Milford is booming because of that spirit.”