Borden Creamery remade into Sterling Inn & Spa in Niagara Falls

Sitting just a block off the honky tonk motif of Niagara Falls, Ont.’s Clifton Hill district is a project that might serve as a snapshot of Niagara Falls, N.Y.’s future.

The Merani Hotel Group, operators of five hotels in both Niagara Falls, converted a former creamery and dairy operation best known at the Borden Creamery into the Sterling Inn & Spa. Located on Magdalen Street and next to the Greg Frewin Theatre, the Sterling is a 41-room hotel that serves as a cross between an upscale bed-and-breakfast and an independent, boutique hotel.

“We’re small, so we can provide a better but personal service for our guests.” said Lisa Baumgartner, Sterling general manager.

The multi-million conversation came against the backdrop of the Mernai Hotel Group’s interest in redeveloping the vacant Hotel Niagara in Niagara Falls. Merni Hotel is one of the groups that submitted a proposal to USA Niagara Development Corp. that centers on redeveloping the Hotel Niagara. USA Niagara, an arm of Empire State Development, is expected to name a Hotel Niagara designated developer in the coming weeks.

Preserving the Borden Creamery’s architecture and history was important, said Faisal Merani, president of Merani Hotel Group. That same tact will be employed if his company wins the Hotel Niagara designation, Merani said.

The Sterling “was a very difficult project because every room has a different shape.” Merani said. “Basically. We were designing 41 different condos – all in the same building.”

Guests entering the Sterling can’t help but notice the large, cement milk bottle that sits above the main entrance. It was left over from the Borden Creamery says and Merani said there was no way he was going to take it down.

The building dates to 1925. “this building has so much history.” Merani said. “We wanted to keep it.”

Once inside, everything is done with an upscale touch.

The rooms are large, some more than 700-square-feet. They are designed with the latest features and comforts such as king-sized beds, fireplaces and modern shower and bathroom amenities. All rooms have jetted bathtubs, some of which are heart shaped to play off Niagara Falls’ honeymoon capital image.

“This is not your typical hotel.” Said Micheal Marsch, Merani Hotel Group vice president of operations. “Our goal is to continually create value for our customers.”

In-hotel amenities include a spa offering massages, facials, body wraps, manicures and even mud massage. There is also a couple’s treatment room.

The hotel’s restaurant, AG, prides itself on not only it’s trendy menu but offering a farm-to-table operation with most of the ingredients including vegetables and meats coming from the Nagara-on-the-Lake region. Menu items include rabbit stuffed with rhubarb and wild mushrooms, which was created by Cory Linkson, AG’s executive Chef.

The combination of the Sterling’s opulence and it’s location just off Clifton Hill has made it a destination.

Baumgartner said guests come from Toronto, Buffalo, Rochester and other regional municipalities. It also captures business from Niagara Falls visitors looking for special getaway holidays. With meeting rooms, it is also booked for corporate retreats.

Marsch said the hotel typically runs at more than 90 percent occupancy.

“we have our own following.” Baumgartner Said.

By James Fink
Buffalo Business First / 706-541-1611