By Greg Bordonaro
Dr. Gerald A. Niznick is considered a pioneer in the dental implant business, but he’s a
relatively unknown name in Connecticut.
That could soon change.
Niznick, who by accident became the owner of the city of Bristol’s only hotel, has a
grand vision to build a second nearby hotel and an accompanying 35,000-square-foot
event center that he says will become a first-class destination wedding venue unlike
anything that exists in the state.
“I’d like for this to be a wedding destination where people come from all over the
place,” Niznick told Hartford Business Journal in a recent interview. “It will be a hotel,
banquet facility and reception hall all in one place.”
Niznick, a Las Vegas multimillionaire with few ties to Connecticut, isn’t just a dreamer
with a grand vision. Since 2010, he’s already invested $25 million of his own money to
renovate and rebrand the former Clarion Hotel at 42 Century Drive into a 141-room
DoubleTree by Hilton.
He plans to invest another $20 million to $25 million to build the event center and a
second, 82-room Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel, which is a newer, modern extendedstay
The hotel would connect to the event center and current DoubleTree hotel. There
would also be a 400-space underground parking garage.
Updated: December 23, 2019 TOWN PROFILE: BRISTOL
The ‘godfather’ of implant dentistry eyes
$20M-plus hotel-event center in Bristol
Niznick said he’s going to pay cash to finance the project so funding is essentially in
place. He wants to break ground in May, but he’ll need to go through a city approval
Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said she supports the project.
Niznick, a 76-year-old serial entrepreneur, recently acquired three long-vacant
parcels immediately west of the DoubleTree hotel from Otis Elevator Co., which has
a testing and research center in Bristol at 99 Century Dr. That space would be used
to house part of the new development, which would extend into the 229 Technology
Park, an industrial park whose tenants include Amazon.
Sports broadcast giant ESPN and family theme park Lake Compounce are also
Niznick said his DoubleTree hotel hosts a lot of wedding parties but not actual
weddings. He wants to capture that business by offering a first-class facility that
competes with the likes of the Aqua Turf in Southington and other nearby venues.
The hope is that the venue, which would also play host to banquets, corporate and
other special events, will feed the hotels and vice versa.
“I’m just betting putting a second hotel there will create a critical mass,” Niznick said.
Zoppo-Sassu said the project was brought to her attention about six months ago
and she met Niznick over breakfast at the end of the summer to discuss it.
“I believe [Niznick] sees marketplace demand,” Zoppo-Sassu said. “We have other
conference facilities in neighboring cities and towns that take a lot of Bristol
business and I think he is looking to fill that market need locally. I also think he is
looking around at some of his corporate neighbors and seeing that there is a
potential opportunity for them to do additional events in town.”
Zoppo-Sassu said manufacturers in and around the 229 Technology industrial park
host events, as does the regional chamber of commerce, that could use the new
Amazon, which has a package-sorting facility in the city, is currently using the
DoubleTree hotel for employee training, she said.
“We look forward to any partnership and expansion opportunities that he continues
to explore knowing that the end product will be very high quality,” Zoppo-Sassu said.
Starting and selling
Niznick was born in Canada, went to dental school to train as a prosthodontist and
then became a pioneer and serial entrepreneur in the dental implant field, having
amassed a few dozen patents and founded and sold multiple companies.
Barron’s magazine once called him the “godfather of American implant dentistry.”
Most notably he started Implant Direct LLC in 2004, a dental implant business that
offers a broad range of surgical, prosthetic and regenerative products and services.
He said he sold that company for $300 million to a division of industrial conglomerate Danaher Corp.
Niznick is no longer in the dental implant business, but he’s been spending his
money on new business ventures.
For example, he now owns Acromil Corp., a California-based aerospace company
whose customers include Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, Kaman Corp. and Barnes
Aerospace, according to its website.
“I get into ventures that I like to play at,” said Niznick, who is an aviation buff and has a
pilot’s license. “It keeps me busy.”
Niznick had no significant ties to Connecticut but more than a decade ago he said he
made a loan to an investor who purchased the Bristol Clarion Hotel, which was built in
1988 and had a troubled history, including falling into foreclosure in 2007.
He says the investor failed to pay him back and he eventually took over the property
with plans to sell it, but he couldn’t find a buyer.
“It was such a dump I couldn’t do anything with it,” Niznick said.
So instead, he decided to make it an investment property. It remains the only hotel he
In 2013, the hotel changed flags, converting from a Clarion to a DoubleTree by Hilton,
following a 13-month, $20 million makeover.
Niznick said he’s continued to make upgrades to the hotel, and his total investment is up
to $25 million.
“It‘s worked out very well — I’m getting a 3 percent return,” he said.
Upgrades to the 141-room hotel, which Niznick said has become a cultural center of
Bristol, have included a renovated lobby and a new five-story, 19-suite tower with a
separate, private entrance for guests. Elsewhere on the property, two dining areas are
available, including The Willows restaurant and TimeOut Sports & Pizza Bar.
His planned Home2 Suites by Hilton would be an extended-stay hotel, which Niznick
said is growing in popularity. There is an extended-stay Homewood Suites nearby in
Southington that he says is always busy.