July 10--CLAYTON -- The extreme transformation of the former Frink snowplow factory into a 105-room luxury hotel was celebrated Wednesday with the opening of the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.
During the festivities, local and state politicians thanked the partnering agencies and community members who helped make the day possible. Guests were given champagne and invited to tour the facility.
More than 100 members of the community came out to have their first look inside the four-story hotel and conference center. The facility is designed with windows highlighting views of the St. Lawrence River.
The ceremony, held at the front doors of the new $24.5 million hotel, was attended by more than 100 area residents and visitors and hosted by representatives from Hart Hotels and Krog Corp., part owners of the hotel. Hart Hotels President and CEO David P. Hart said they hope the guests will enjoy the same luxury their corporation has strived to provide customers at its other AAA Four Diamond-accredited hotels.
"We expect to earn AAA Four Diamond accreditation in the future," Mr. Hart said in an email. "We do not have it yet. The other two Harbor Hotels we operate are rated AAA Four Diamond."
During the ceremony, Town Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said that standing in front of the building now, it looks like it all happened overnight. But the hotel's opening comes 54 weeks after the ground-breaking, and after more than 10 years of work to clear the land of more than 22,000 tons of toxic waste left at the former Frink site where snowplows were manufactured.
"A lot of people looked at this site 10 years ago and said nothing was going to happen here," Mr. Taylor said. He said now the hotel will be a new start for the former plant.
Mr. Taylor said the project wouldn't have been possible without the contribution of local residents, the support of elected officials and the enthusiasm of the community.
Other local politicians in attendance were Clayton Mayor Norma J. Zimmer; state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of the Empire State Development Corp., was representing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The $24.5 million construction project was made possible thanks to a $3 million grant provided by the Empire State Development Corp.
Mr. Adams congratulated not just the hotel's owners but the community for their hard work to encourage the hotel's development. He said the hotel is a public and private investment in tourism infrastructure, which is exactly what the grant funding is designated for.
"Today this all comes together. It's been a really exciting partnership," Mr. Adams said.
Mrs. Ritchie said the job growth potential and the tourism opportunities the hotel will bring to the area will have an impact around the region. She said it also will open a window for more people to visit and experience the Thousand Islands region.
"This really is going to be not just an asset to Clayton but for the entire area," Mrs. Ritchie said.
Mr. Hart cut the ceremonial ribbon and invited everyone to enjoy the hotel.
"We want you to join us as we cut the ribbon. Have some fun and enjoy, and don't be a stranger. Come back a lot," Mr. Hart said.
Inside, guests could tour the facility and see the indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, a fully equipped fitness center, a business center, more than 6,000 square feet of conference and banquet space, upscale dining in the Seaway Grille and the 1000 Islands Bar and views of the St. Lawrence River from the Riverside Patio, an outdoor bar.
Seasonal Clayton resident Nancy L. Rausch said she and her family have been watching the hotel's development from the river, and finally seeing it on the inside, it was much more beautiful than she expected. She said she was surprised by the panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River.
"From here looking out, it's just out of this world," Mrs. Rausch said.
Tom Keane, regional sales director for Hart Hotels, took a group of guests on a tour through the typical hotel room and two suites. He said almost every room in the hotel has a view, if just a glimpse, of the St. Lawrence River. For the seasonal residents, it was like seeing their river from a completely new perspective.
"We've never seen a view like this before," Mrs. Rausch said. She said she has watched the property transform from the plant, to a convenient parking lot that was great for looking at the river, to the hotel.
"The Frink factory provided a great deal of employment, but after it closed, it was just a building, and then nothing," Kathleen M. Murray said. "Now it's quite nice. We were really impressed with it."
Mrs. Zimmer said the hotel definitely has a "wow" factor.
"I worked at Frink America for 23 years. It was really sad when it closed," Mrs. Zimmer said. She said she was a parts manager, and when the news finally came that the factory would be closing, taking with it nearly 200 jobs, it was a very hard blow to the community. She said it is good to see the property being used not only to bring visitors to the area but to bring back jobs.
"When it closed, it was sad to see people go. Now we hope people will come back," Mrs. Zimmer said.
Mr. Hart said there are "many different rates based on seasonality, room type, room view, patio, etc." He said the rates will range from $129 to $339 for standard accommodations depending on the season and the day of the week.
For a single room during July and August, the hotel's website was offering available rooms for weekend rates of $339 per day, or $249 a day during the week. During the last week of August and into September, the rates are expected to change to $169 for a weeknight and $339 for a weekend night.
Mr. Hart said the interior designs are similar to the group's Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel in the Finger Lakes.
"Our hotel has a similar feel inside as the Watkins Glen hotel, but we were given a lot more outside to work with here," Mr. Hart said. He said the expansive patio at the hotel will surely be inviting for guests throughout the summer, though he said the indoor space will provide year-round entertainment for guests.
For more information about the hotel or to make a reservation, visit www.1000islandsharborhotel.com.
Video of the opening festivities can be seen at http://wdt.me/1000-Island-Harbor-Hotel.