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NCCC, Hotel Niagara enter 5-year agreement to provide housing for Culinary Institute students


Thu, Jan 22nd 2015 02:05 pm

Hotel Niagara to become 'Home of the Chefs'

Representatives of Niagara County Community College and the owner of the historic Hotel Niagara have executed a five-year lease to allow students to occupy three floors of hotel rooms at Hotel Niagara for a period of five years starting in January 2016.

NCCC President James Klyczek and Hotel Niagara owner Harry Stinson of JSK International recently signed the agreement. Klyczek said, "This is a permanent solution that we can advertise and market, and students know exactly what they're getting."

The Culinary Institute opened two years ago in a section of the former Rainbow Mall with about 250 students. It has already expanded to 600 students, with full enrollment capacity of 1,000 students.

Stinson said this is a unique win-win for NCCC and the hotel.

"The synergies are quite extraordinary, in timing, operations, economics and, indeed, our collective visions for downtown Niagara Falls," he said. "NCCC requires accommodation during the traditional Niagara Falls 'off-season' (fall, winter, spring), and during these months, we will still have over 60 percent of the suites available for hotel guests. We'll be close to fully occupied year-round, which will really confuse the analysts (and thrill our accountants).

"And when you think about it, the primary challenge facing even the busiest hotels is access to staff, and now we have a direct, working relationship with a professional hospitality college, with hundreds of eager trainees anxious to fulfill their apprenticeship hours and complete their degree. Our sous chefs will never dare phone in sick!"

Project director Steve Fitzmaurice, a graduate of Cornell University's Hotel School, boasts a career that includes stints at the Waldorf-Astoria, the New York Hilton and Hyatt Regency Buffalo. He said the NCCC students are not the stereotypical "campus keggers."

"These are people of all ages who have specifically chosen a professional career in hospitality. You have to visit the NCCC facility to see how seriously they take their training," Fitzmaurice said.

"The Hotel Niagara has historically been the social heart of Niagara County," Fitzmaurice added. "Everyone recalls attending major events, banquets, weddings, proms, dinners and dances at the Hotel Niagara. A first-class food and beverage department is essential to reviving this tradition. Our function rooms, restaurants, theater and bar will accommodate 2,000 people simultaneously. We'll need staff!"

Stinson emphasized the design quality of the accommodations will have students pinching themselves.

"Frankly, these rooms - like the rest of the hotel's rooms - are designed to gracefully accommodate dual occupancy, complete with generous closets, dual workstations, flat-screen TVs and a sense of privacy," he said. "We put an enormous amount of time into their layout and finish. Think of really well-planned cruise cabins, or luxury RV'. During the summer season, families, tours, teams and groups will love our rooms. Of course the upper floors of the building will feature some deluxe suites with prime views and high ceilings, but the inventory mix is really going to drive a very high, year-round occupancy."

Initially, NCCC was able to make temporary arrangements to house students at the adjacent Quality Inn. However, they needed a more long-term solution to maintain growth in the culinary student population.

Hotel Niagara's rooms will provide the amenities the students require.

"Again, these are more mature students, who will really appreciate the quality of accommodations, the level of security and the unique opportunity to learn within the context of a full service, four-star hotel," Stinson said. "Their accommodations will be a major factor in NCCC's student recruitment and the college's reputation. I am quite excited that the building will be humming all year."

Fitzmaurice agreed.

"Being a classic 'grand hotel,' the Hotel Niagara used to be the preferred overnight destination for any tours coming to Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, as the hotel d├ęcor declined, and since it closed for renovations, many of the tour groups chose to make Niagara Falls a 'day trip,' " he said. "Frankly, staying at a special hotel is a big part of the travel experience, and we intend to restore that feature to the Niagara Falls market. We will be providing the grandeur of the 'Great Gatsby' era throughout the public spaces, with a selection of classic and modern rooms, first-class service, modern technology, in a world-renowned location."

The planned opening is January 2016. An open house will be held for the community prior to operations commencing, and model suites will be prepared by late summer.

For further information, contact Fitzmaurice at [email protected] or call 716-583-4070.

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