Re-booted: The New Strathallan Hotel

Re-booted: The New Strathallan Hotel

Now called “Strathallan, A Double Tree by Hilton”

Located on at 550 East Ave, on the corner of Strathallan Park

The Hotels current image direction direct from their website:

“Introducing downtown Rochester’s premier boutique hotel. Perfectly placed at the crossroads of our cultural and business districts, the Strathallan combines unique access to local highlights with an exceptional level of personal service—all in a setting that brings a history of luxury into vibrant, contemporary focus.”

If you have not heard about it, for nearly a year The Strathallan Hotel (off East Ave) has been undergoing a massive remodeling. It’s under new owners, and the lengthy process of its remodeling has apparently had the ultimate goal of becoming a corporate hotel, as opposed to the local independent hotel it has always been. “This is going to be downtown Rochester’s only premier boutique hotel” proclaims CEO David Christa on the hotels website.

The re-construction process has been a long and rocky one, with many scheduled completion dates that have come and gone starting back in July of 2012 and most recently November 1st 2012. It does now appear they are finally ready to open officially, and I recently got a chance to look around the first floor of the new Strathallan. As you would expect, it’s completely different than it was a year ago. The whole layout and look have been drastically changed. The first floor has gone from a casual dignified look with a lot of wood accents and leather furniture, to a very trendy modern look, with a lot of stone accents, color changing lighting, chain curtains, and frankly ugly furniture. The whole new look screams 2010 urban trendy, to my eye. Any independent charm of the first floor has been replaced with this seemingly manufactured chique that looks very corporate and uniformed, something you might see in any modern corporate hotel anywhere in the world. They have also completely renovated the grounds around the building, changed the buildings color, added a small swimming pool on the first floor, added suites to the roof, and remodeled and refurnished all the guest rooms. There is also apparently a new restaurant going in with a brand new state of the art kitchen. The new eatery is run by some of the people behind “Murphy’s Law” on East and Alexander (as well as other local bars). I assume they will fit right in to the manufactured chique direction of the overall Hotel. The hotels new logo really exemplifies this new direction; it’s sleek, minimal, modern and generic.

I happen to live next door to the Strathallan Hotel, and have been living with the sound of its reconstruction every day for the past few months. My families company owns 2 properties that border the Strathallan Hotel. We have had on-again off-again relationships with the previous owners of the hotel for years, and things have continued under the new regime so far, during the remodel. The relationship with the new management has been very one sided from my perspective. There has been little “give and take” and much more “take” in our business dealings over the past few months. There has been a huge lack of communication and overall respect coming from the projects leaders and management. Early on in the remodel the sales staff approached us about renting some space in my building to set up a temporary office, to which we agreed to accommodate them. After they moved in, my new temporary guests had some difficulty adjusting to or respecting that they were in a residential building, to say the least. As things progressed we also had some issues with payment from the Strathallan, having to make repeated inquiries as to why they had not stuck to our monthly billing arrangement. Eventually they did pay us in full, but directly after that suddenly moved the office out of the building without any notice. We also encountered multiple issues with our parking lot adjacent to the hotel. We and our tenants have been basically unable to use this parking area since construction began. Although this lot is clearly marked with many different signs, the construction crew has taken little notice and effectively claimed it as their own for not only parking, but storage of heavy equipment and containers. They have also used our dumpster at their own discretion, filling it with trash on a regular basis and on more than one occasion blocking it in so that it could not be emptied by Waste Management. For a multi-million dollar corporate renovation, there is little excuse for this unprofessional behavior, in my opinion.

With the grand opening of the hotel immanent and construction being finalized I can’t help but feel our community has lost something. While in recent decades the Strathallan Hotel had lost some of its prestige and might have been in need of a facelift, the bland corporate direction this once unique hotel has taken saddens me. Not only has my street drastically changed with this remodel, the vibe of my community has shifted. With the artwalk extensions on University Ave, and the hotels corporate remodel Strathallan is just not the same street it used to be. Such is progress in corporatized America.

Article by Juda Nevadomski



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