I have just seen the future of Buffalo. A few minutes ago I met up with Mark Croce and his crew to see the work that is currently underway at the Curtiss Hotel. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. The hotel, even in its pupa-like state is a masterpiece of elegance.
It all starts with the extended sidewalks that Croce paid for in order to accommodate a year round patio. The patio spot is just off the restaurant that is being created in the image of Buffalo’s historic Chez Ami, complete with the rotating bar. But before you get there, take a look up and see that the new cornice has been brilliantly illuminated with LED lighting. And next the columns will be given a wash of upward lighting. “The Curtiss Hotel will be viewable from a mile away,” said Croce.
At this point, a visitor must enter through the main hotel entranceway, where they will be greeted by valet parking, a modern porte-cochere, and a state of the art video projection system that Croce can control by phone with images broadcasted on a giant exterior wall.
From there, guests walk past a modern fountain with LED lighting, and a gate with an indoor-outdoor pool in the background (we’ll get to that later). The walls are illuminated white marble.
The sidewalks are heated. Gas torches add to the ambiance. The valet parking is free for anyone staying at the hotel or using a hotel service – spa, massage rooms, men’s salon with hot towel shaves, restaurant, catered events on the first floor and on the rooftop, rooftop lounge, etc.
After passing through the main lobby with original architectural plaster elements being restored, there is a stunning secluded hallway that can be used for smaller catered events. Walk to the other side, past the front desk, and you find yourself staring at the rotating bar. Dramatic lighting includes custom made chandeliers, LED, modern globe pendants… “All of the mechanicals in the building are hidden,” explained Croce. “We designed it so that you would only see the beauty, not the way it operates. Everything is hidden. You won’t see the deliveries. We have a bottle chute that dispenses the empties to the basement. There are service elevators, which means alleviates the chaos. Everything is seamless.”
The kitchen (actually two kitchens – one on the first floor and an even larger one in the basement) is also state of the art. It was designed for efficiency and for staff comfort. The hood has built in LED lighting, and the kitchens are air conditioned. Event the custom floors are designed to give the feet comfort – the staff is as much a concern as the guests. The rotating bar is 1.5 times the size of the Chop House bar (Croce’s other restaurant). The restaurant seats 200+.
It’s going to be a modern American restaurant, with varying culinary inspirations from around the world. “As you sit at the bar, the views will change,” said Croce. One moment you will be looking outside and the next you will be looking upon the restaurant. Everything is custom made – the ottomans, the hostess stations, banquettes, the counter seating along the windows, the black RFP walls in the kitchen… everyone says that I’m crazy. If you think you’ve seen something so far, then wait until the finishes are underway. We have spared no expenses, and designer Paul LaMorticella has outdone himself. With faux finish gold leaf, floor mosaics, a 43K wall mosaic, the custom made chairs were 2K each. The curves in the ceiling bring back the look of the 40s and the 50s. This is going to be a huge attraction – there’s over $1 million in specialty lighting. There’s going to be energy and hustle here. This is big city stuff. It’s an adult playground… it’s designed for entertainment.”
The pool? According to Beauty Pools, they have never built anything like it. It’s a year round indoor outdoor pool with a fountain, spa locker rooms, sound system, lounge and lounge chairs, cocktail service, hot tub, 48 jets, a courtyard, and LED lighting.”When people ask why this is taking so long,” Croce stated. “They will soon know why. The pool is one thing. the culinary team is another. It’s unprecedented in Buffalo. The culinary farm team is now in place at Chop House.”
From the pool and the kitchen, we get to explore Paul Paul LaMorticella’s own playground. The designer was on-hand to talk about the upper guest floors. Each floor is going to be custom, with limited edition works of art, originals, exquisite wallpaper, electric drapes, steam showers with blue tooth speaker systems, light troughs, chroma therapy, light therapy, custom armoires (no closets), bidets with automatic opening seat covers – the bidets are LED lit and self cleaning too – body faucets, hidden drains, drop down make-up counters…
“We have 40K linear footage of crown molding,” said LaMorticella. “I’ve designed transitional overtures – very light, dramatic and classic for public spaces, and and dramatics and sexy for the rooms… dark with color trims. Each floor is unique – the sixth floor is a masterpiece.”
Now onto the rooftop. There’s nothing like it in all of Buffalo. Originally Croce was going to build out a smaller patio. Halfway through he scrapped the plan, ripped it out, and is now building out a rooftop destination that will accommodate 300 people.
It will be indoor-outdoor, with radiant heat and AC. There will be a bar and restrooms, and sensational panoramic views of the city. You can even see the lake. “It was a financial nightmare,” said Croce. “But it’s going to be worth it.
When a guest takes the high speed elevator to the top floor, they will not know where they are. To watch a sunset or a storm coming off the lake is fantastic. The patio goes right to the edge of the roof. We had to build a superstructure underneath to make it work.”
The opening of Curtiss Hotel will be a game changer for Buffalo. If you were to pick up this boutique hotel and put it anywhere in the world, it would be a show stopper. Croce has over thought everything, including the automatic sheet folding machine in the basement. “Like I said,” stated Croce. “We went to the end’s of the earth to create a hotel that would make Buffalo proud.”