Five Questions With: Joseph R. Paolino Jr.

The high-end, 47-room hotel with a world-class Italian restaurant opening on the first floor is a point of pride for Joseph R. Paolino Jr., the former Providence mayor and real estate managing partner for Paolino Properties LP.

Billing it as a destination for sophisticated travelers, Paolino Properties launched The Beatrice hotel at 90 Westminster St. in downtown Providence on Sept. 1, currently still operating in a “soft open” period at 60% capacity, while putting on the finishing touches over the next few weeks, before launching the hotel in full with the new Bellini restaurant. As of publication, rooms were going for as low as $259 per night.

PBN: What has been the reception to The Beatrice hotel so far, and what kind of guests does it attract?

PAOLINO: It’s been great to see so much excitement around The Beatrice’s opening. We are already sold out for many weekends, particularly around the big fall events coming up like parents weekend at the colleges.

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As the first boutique hotel to open in Providence in nearly a decade, the hotel is an attractive option for parents looking to experience a new and elevated offering when visiting their children at Brown University, RISD [Rhode Island School of Design], Johnson & Wales [University], and the other colleges.

We’ve also begun to see business travel coming back, with lots of requests for meeting space and catering, which we are able to offer. And we are seeing an interest from “staycation” guests from drivable cities throughout New York and New England.

PBN: What’s the inspiration for The Beatrice hotel?

PAOLINO: The property is inspired by my mother, Beatrice Temkin – a woman who empowered others and had a way about her that made others feel at home. The hotel pays homage to her elegant style – it’s located in the historic 1887 Exchange Building, updated with a contemporary design that tastefully pays tribute to the building’s 19th-century storied past. It has 47 spacious guest rooms with high ceilings and expansive windows that showcase memorable views of the city’s historic district. Like my mom, a high attention to detail has been placed in areas you might least expect it.

PBN: What will it mean for downtown Providence to have this new restaurant, Bellini, Ignazio Cipriani’s first Bellini restaurant in New England?

PAOLINO: Providence boasts one of the top culinary scenes in the country and in opening The Beatrice, we wanted to introduce a restaurant that adds a new dimension to the city’s dining landscape. Guests at Bellini will experience the same exquisite standards of fine Italian dining, a relaxed and approachable atmosphere, and wonderful European service for which its other locations – in New York, Beverly Hills [in California] and Miami – are known and loved.

Ignazio and Maggio Cipriani are the fourth-generation brothers of the famed Cipriani family that operates Bellini and other restaurants and are at the helm of one of the best hospitality groups in the world. Bellini is a fresh, upscale and modern Italian dining experience, and we are proud to introduce them to the city for visitors and locals alike. We will be able to provide private dining for guests looking for a more intimate dining experience or meeting space. And, we will have a private club on the rooftop for hotel guests and members.

PBN: What was it like to build and open this new hotel amid a global pandemic?

PAOLINO: From construction delays to issues around the supply chain and, of course, the uncertainty of the future travel and tourism, it’s been a team effort navigating a changing landscape in real time. We felt like we were building a plane while we were flying it.

We had hoped to be able to open a year and a half ago and have had a lot of start-stops along the way but are hopeful as we see the uptick in travel and positive trends in our occupancy levels. We’ve really taken the time to ensure that the utmost health and safety measures are in place to establish confidence among guests and travelers.

As an example, we’ve required 100% of our restaurant and hotel staff to be fully vaccinated. The property also offers contactless check-in, keyless entry and an on-demand text concierge service for both ease and comfort throughout each stay. And, truly to meet our guests at the moment we are living in, The Beatrice is also equipped with enhanced health and safety measures and offers services for guests, some of which are not visible to the eye. For example, we have installed a state-of-the-art air purification unit in the ventilation ducts, which uses high-power UVC [ultraviolet C] light to disinfect airborne viruses, bacteria and other contaminants. And we will provide Dyson HEPA [high-efficiency particulate air] purifiers to guests in our conference room facilities.

PBN: How do you feel about the long-term future of downtown Providence and the success of businesses like The Beatrice and others there?

PAOLINO: Downtown Providence has always had a bustling scene with its restaurants, shopping, entertainment and beautiful scenery. Particularly now, however, it’s having a moment. However, I would be remiss not to mention that the true success of downtown Providence is going to depend heavily on some big decisions in the near term and leadership by our elected officials. In particular, we need to ensure that Kennedy Plaza is both safe and accessible.

If the “Superman” building’s proposed redevelopment project becomes a reality, that will mean a $215 million investment into downtown and would provide 285 much-needed housing units. This would be a substantial investment and would have even more of an impact on the future of downtown than any other project.

We are a small-enough city where we should be able to fix some of the social problems that we are seeing here in Providence and in cities across the country. I will say that I’ve seen a renewed excitement among locals and visitors downtown, particularly around the hotel and restaurant.

Marc Larocque is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.