After eight years of extensive planning and construction, the Ithaca Marriott Downtown — located at 120 South Aurora St. in the Commons — officially opened today with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Mayor Svante Myrick ’09.
“The city of Ithaca’s goal is to be the best small city in America,” Myrick said. “The best place to live, work and visit. This hotel opening gets us closer to that goal, because this hotel is unique … It will benefit a lot of people.”
Ithaca’s first full-scale Marriott, the hotel includes over 150 guest rooms and seven suites as well as a complimentary shuttle to Ithaca College, Cornell University and Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, according to a press release.
Donn Urgo Sr., president of Urgo Hotel and Resorts, proposed constructing the hotel after visiting one of his sons at Ithaca College, according to Cathy Hart, general manager of the Ithaca Marriott.
“While visiting [his son] over the years, [Urgo] fell in love with the area and decided he really wanted to build a hotel,” Hart said. “At the same time, Jeffrey Rimland, who owns several properties here in Ithaca, also had that vision. Eventually, their paths ended up crossing, and they came up with the project.”
Monks on the Commons, the restaurant and bar that opened along with the hotel, also had its own ribbon cutting ceremony today. Hart explained that there were two separate ceremonies because the restaurant is meant to be a “completely different entity than the hotel.”
“There is a different set of doors to the Monks, there is a different vibe, from an aesthetic perspective and the type of service we’re providing,” she said.
The restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and feature “American cuisine in a casual atmosphere,” according to the release.
Hart called the restaurant and bar “a gathering place,” adding that at 5:30 p.m. everyday, Monks will feature a “one hour social” event where guests can hear the story of Monks.
“Monks were the first true farmers,” she explained. “They invented a plough, they made their own food and they invented many of the beers and wines we enjoy today. They invented the hourglass, which is why the hourglass is in our logo.”
In addition to Ithaca’s influx of tourists in the warmer months when “it gets very beautiful in Ithaca,” Hart said she anticipates the restaurant to have “a huge local following.”
“Seasonally, [demographics] will change,” she said, referring to the hotel. “Whether it is visiting professors, or parents bringing potential students for college tours, there’s a wide variety of customers that we are targeting.”
Hart added that the hotel’s most formidable challenge was the limited amount of property available for the building.
“We are a 10-story building built on a very small footprint which previously was a parking lot,” she said. “The logistics and getting the machinery needed to dig into the ground was certainly a difficulty.”
Hart credited the Tompkins County Area Development group and the City of Ithaca Economic Development group as offering “huge support and huge resources within Ithaca that have come together to make this project happen.”