Located in a former millinery building from 1912, the Refinery Hotel in new york city’s Garment District is expected to open in late fall or early winter. The loft-like, industrial-chic hotel features subtle riffs on period details and nods to the building’s history. General Manager Randy Taormina spoke to Lodging Online Editor Deidre Wengen about the building’s past and the revitalization process.
1. Deidre Wengen: Refinery Hotel, located in the historic Colony Arcade building in New York, has a storied history as a hub for hat manufacturers. Do you think the history of the hotel will make it more appealing to travelers looking for a unique experience?
Randy Taormina: Everything about Refinery is unique, including its history. Guests will certainly find our modern take on the building’s glorious past a creative twist to the boutique hotel concept; thoughtful, eclectic, and intelligent. We know that today’s guests will be creative and inspired by staying here.
Refinery is tailored and stylish, and the industrial feel will bring something different to New York’s hospitality landscape. But it is the hotel’s superior service and personalized touch that will keep guests coming back.
2. DW: What steps were taken in preserving the historic qualities of the building? Did the renovation process run into any trouble along the way?
RT: Buildings like the Colony Arcade have bones that simply would be impossible or too expensive to recreate today. We have kept the architectural gems of the building and created new interiors. All of the original, interesting elements, like concrete 12-foot ceilings and neo-gothic arches with sculptural accents, mixed with modern conveniences, give you the best product with the most personality.
The hotel’s designers, Stonehill & Taylor, created an industrial-chic design and custom furnishings that are a nod to the original tenants that lived and worked in the space. White plaster groin-vaulted ceilings and a 72-foot-long entryway lead guests through an early 1900s arcade to the reception area, which is outfitted with warm wood and a modern installation of hat making tools. The hotel has retained and repurposed some original features like the wood from the original water tower, which has been used to build the plank ceiling of the rooftop lounge.
With any construction project there are delays, but honestly this project hasn’t run into any major issues and our ownership group has been supportive throughout the whole process.
3. DW: Adaptive reuse seems to be more prevalent in the hotel industry right now. Why do you think restoring and transforming historic buildings and properties into hotels is so appealing to developers?
RT: Restoration of historic buildings is so appealing to developers and travelers, because we all love the history of who we were and how we have grown. That applies everywhere, from our own family lives to the magnificent architecture from bygone eras. We are fascinated with it. In my opinion, original buildings, with a few material touches to maintain their beauty, are always the best option.
4. DW: Given your experience in the hotel industry, how do you feel about your new position as general manager of Refinery Hotel? What are you looking forward to when the hotel opens this year?
RT: I feel honored to be part of such a stunning project and opportunity. I look forward to meeting and greeting my guests, welcoming them to our home and, like any good host, making sure every little detail is met. I am excited to give them something different, that artistic ambience that our opulent reincarnation of this property will offer. I am very excited.