Discover Marblehead business spotlight: Harbor Light Inn

The following is an interview with Carolyn Pyburn of Harbor Light Inn, 58 Washington St., conducted by Discover Marblehead. To learn more about the Marblehead business, email, call 781-631-2186 or visit

Tell us about the Harbor Light Inn. The Harbor Light Inn is a 20-room boutique hotel located in the heart of the historic district of Marblehead. We have a dining room where we serve breakfast to our guests every morning, an outdoor pool and an intimate tavern that is open to the public. We also have a separate house that holds five furnished apartments (perfect for rentals between two weeks and three months). My parents (Peter and Suzanne Conway) opened the inn in 1986 and I moved back to town in 2015 to take over. Hospitality is in my blood, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! 

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? I received some wonderful training from my days working at Four Seasons so it’s hard to pick the best, but one that always rings true (in many different scenarios) is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. For me in a hotel, if I have a guest upset about something, I always put myself in their shoes before I react to whatever the situation may be. It could be something as minor as the guest can’t get their TV to work and I may first think “This isn’t that big of a deal…why are they so upset?” but then I realize, “What if I had a long day of travel and am paying a lot of money to stay at a hotel and right after checking-in, I can’t get the TV to work and have to call the front desk.” I might be annoyed! By thinking that way, I can better adjust my reaction. The same can be done in a proactive measure. For instance, if I know someone is coming to stay with us for an anniversary, what are some different things we could do for them that would enhance their stay? 

What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why? This might be the hardest question yet! I love anywhere on the water. The lighthouse, Fort Sewall, Crocker Park, Riverhead and Devereux beach. They are all fantastic spots, but I think a picnic out at Chandler Hovey is hard to beat.  

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? Well, to think of something surprising that ties in with Marblehead – I was one of the lucky few that was aboard the USS Constitution back in 1997 when it sailed out of Marblehead Harbor. I was just a kid at the time so sadly the magnitude of how special the event was, was lost on me in the moment. But I do remember my dad dressed in uniform (he was the commodore of the BYC at the time) and all the Navy sailors in line to talk to Walter Cronkite and, of course, the Blue Angels flying overhead. Shortly after that, my family was invited to Walter Cronkite’s house on Martha’s Vineyard for lunch.  I had no idea who he was at the time, but I remember my dad telling me after we left, “One day you’re going to realize how insane it is that you were running around, rummaging through Walter Cronkite’s house.” Now I get it…

The business spotlight is a new weekly feature, published in a partnership with Discover Marblehead. Discover Marblehead is “dedicated to the promotion of our majestic seaside town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Our mission is to highlight local businesses, tourism, community events and attractions through social media, email marketing and community outreach.” To learn more, visit

Melissa Stacey
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