By Stephanie Rosso
The United Office Building, the first skyscraper in Niagara Falls, sat vacant for nearly 30 years until it was purchased by Carl Paladino's Ellicott Development Company for only $1 in 2004. After a multimillion-dollar renovation, the 20-story building reopened as The Giacomo Hotel and Residences in 2010.
With 2015 marking the five-year anniversary for the reopening of The Giacomo, it is a far cry from what the building was in 1929. Once offices of lawyers, insurance brokers and other professionals, this landmark is now housing both residences and luxury hotel accommodations. With rooms well booked into next year, and a waiting list for apartments, the establishment is flourishing.
Presently, this boutique hotel is home to 39 suites and 23 apartments. The building's original art-deco interior style and Mayan architectural influence comes to life with hotel interior decorator Donna Wojcik's work, reflecting these values in the new renovation. She captured the styles in every room, including the bar and lounge by casting replicas of the Mayan architecture on the building's exterior and creating a magnificent fireplace. Details such as keeping the original frame of the turnstile door reflect on the initial upscale feel of the building. Wojcik added one of her own paintings in each room of the hotel, complete with a hidden Giacomo "G" in each. Lavish textures, prints and patterns, and bold contrasting colors add to the art-deco feel of this boutique hotel.
Aside from the aesthetics, The Giacomo prides itself on addressing customer needs, and going above and beyond for its guests.
The tenants and small staff have formed their own small community. The employees get to know each tenant and repeat hotel guest, knowing just how to make their stay special.
"We are very fortunate with our tenants," assistant general manager Joy Tate said.
In effect, Tate said the staff is the way it is due to excellent, caring employees.
"It's the trickle-down effect," she said.
The Giacomo has a large amount of repeat guests, business professionals and corporate leases.
In the five years since the reopening, the hotel and residences have done exceptionally well, exceeding all expectations for the establishment.
A two-time guest at the hotel, Sarina Deacon said she likes how it was once a historic building and the values stayed the same. Deacon also said the prices were competitive and the breakfast the chef served was delicious.
"It can be cramped in some areas in the hotel, but it's a nice intimate setting," she said.
To keep guests always wondering, "what's next" for the Giacomo, the hotel is already undergoing renovations. Adding two new rooms to the hotel and replacing the carpeting are just two of the plans underway.
Edited by: Maura Christie
Designer: Kim E. Burnham-Fechner