After more than a year of hype, Westin’s heavily promoted “Heavenly Bed” has finally arrived in Buffalo.
Delaware North officials will formally open their new “upper-upscale” hotel in downtown Buffalo on Thursday, unveiling the latest high-end addition to Western New York’s hospitality landscape.
The Westin Buffalo Hotel, featuring its famous plush bed (purchased by the hotel at a cost of $2,000 apiece) in each of its 116 guest rooms and suites, occupies the lower five floors of Delaware North’s shiny glass headquarters building at 250 Delaware.
It offers guest options ranging from standard rooms to 14 larger suites – including four “extended-stay” suites with kitchenettes and a sprawling Chairman’s Suite with up to three bedrooms. And it touts a full-service restaurant, a food market, a spacious lobby, an enormous two-story fitness facility on the fourth floor, and more than 7,300 square feet of event space, including an elliptical grand ballroom with floor-to-ceiling window views.
There’s even a small sleekly designed robot with a display screen that moves around the lobby, although officials said they’re not ready to unveil details about it.
“This hotel is unlike any other in Buffalo,” said General Manager Thomas Long. “With the revitalization of downtown Buffalo over the past several years, there was a real demand for a high-caliber hotel experience.”
The hotel has been accepting guests in a “soft opening” since last week, while its staff of 38 hourly workers and 12 managers worked out final details. It also hosted a few special events, like a state Democratic Party meeting and a large function for University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences – which is named for Delaware North Chairman Jeremy Jacobs and his family.
It’s even had “walk-in” guests. “It’s been great,” said Long, a Buffalo native who left a plumb job at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City to lead the new Westin. “The first few days, it was absolutely nonstop. We pretty much sold out every room we had available.”
The formal launch of the Westin caps off the $110 million, 12-story tower that Uniland Development Co. constructed at the corner of Delaware Avenue and West Chippewa Street. The rest of the 330,000-square-foot building is mostly open, with Delaware North occupying several floors, along with KeyCorp and smaller tenants. Crews are finishing space for the Department of Homeland Security.
It also marks a crowning achievement for Delaware North, the century-old hospitality company that started in Buffalo in 1915 and now operates lodging, food, entertainment and concessions businesses around the world, but didn’t run any major business in its hometown until now. The company operates 25 hotels, resorts or other lodging places, with over 3,000 rooms.
Indeed, the hotel motif deliberately hearkens back to Delaware North’s long history of concessions and hospitality management in Yosemite, Sequoia, Yellowstone, Shenandoah, Olympic, and Grand Canyon national parks – a major part of the company’s business. Exposed beams display rich dark wood in the lobby and fitness center, while modern wood furniture fills guest rooms, and wood-grained ceramic tiles cover floors and even walls. Earthen tones dominate the halls and rooms, while nature-themed art adorns walls. Guests pass a plant-covered “green” wall in the lobby, irrigated row-by-row from behind.
And it’s the first hotel in downtown Buffalo under the umbrella of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, a leading international hotel company that owns Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis and Le Meridien. “We’re very excited about the opening. It’s a really great addition to the Westin brand,” said Bob Jacobs, vice president of brand management for Westin in North America, who is not related to the Delaware North family. “The Buffalo market has been one that was on our target list for a while and it was just waiting for the right partner to come along with the right location and opportunity.”
Long said the new hotel was designed specifically for the needs of business travelers, and cited the benefit of feedback from Delaware North’s own corporate employees about what they wanted in a hotel. Each hotel room features Westin’s well-known beds with pillow-top mattresses, down cushioning and lush sheets, as well as the “Heavenly Shower” with a waterfall faucet. There’s also a 55-inch smart TV, and abundant electrical outlets and USB ports for electronic devices. Extended-stay suites have a stainless-steel dishwasher, refrigerator and microwave, and the hotel will stock the cabinets with silverware and dishes, or even put groceries in the fridge.
“If there are certain things you want before you arrive, we’ll take care of it,” Long said. “It’s customizing the hotel to the individual.”
Most rooms average about 400 square feet in size, while the hallways are brightly lit and unusually wide, at as much as 12 feet. The rooms are spread from the second to the fifth floors, with upgraded rooms for Starwood Preferred members on the fifth along with the Chairman’s Suite. The latter features a conference table for 10, a wraparound couch, an 80-inch flat-screen smart TV, a fireplace, and a small kitchen and pantry area for hotel staff to serve a business lunch.
The first floor and lobby features Jake’s Cafe and the Patina 250 restaurant. There’s also a lounge area called The Haven and a retail gift shop that sells Anchor Bar sauce, Fowler’s chocolates, Abino Mills etched glassware, and honey from the Jacobs’ family estate at Deeridge Farms, in addition to Bills and Sabres shirts and hats. And there’s an outdoor courtyard that can accommodate up to 220 guests for a reception, with a colorfully lit water screen and fire pits.
“It’s been amazing,” Long said. “Everyone’s really excited. There’s not a space like this in the city.”