The Inn on the Lake in Canandaigua will be closed this fall until summer 2020.

CANANDAIGUA — The Inn on the Lake will close this fall for a major overhaul pegged to turn it into a “luxury boutique style inn.” The resort and conference center — built in 1970 as the Sheraton Canandaigua Inn, is expected to be closed for about 18 months and reopen for business in early summer 2020.

“We are going to do the full transformation,” said Chris Burns, managing director.

The vision is to create “a beautiful, modern waterfront inn featuring world-class facilities and amenities,” according to the announcement. Saying the plan is for a “luxury boutique style inn,” Burns said the new hotel and restaurant will “cater to people from around the world.”

The Inn on the Lake at 770 S. Main St. sits adjacent to the New York Wine & Culinary Center. Burns mentioned working closely with the center to create a campus feel, capitalizing on the local craft beer and wine industry.

Mayor Ellen Polimeni said she learned about the plan Monday when she was invited to a meeting at The Inn on the Lake with a few other city officials and those with the development team.

“I think it will be A wonderful project,” she said, adding “it will be a showcase when it’s finished.” The mayor said she was eager to learn more and details will be forthcoming.

There wasn’t yet a price tag put on the project.

Polimeni said developers do not expect any financial help from the city.

“They were really clear about that yesterday,” she said. Referring to the plan as “redevelopment, not new development,” the mayor added the city looks forward to providing any guidance needed to move to the project along.

“I give them a lot of credit for taking it on,” Polimeni said.

The mayor said the plan to raise the profile of The Inn on the Lake and capitalize on its proximity to the New York Wine & Culinary Center is a good one. She mentioned the current situation with The Inn on the Lake behind the NYWCC and the inn’s entrance confusing for people not familiar with the layout.

On the impact the closure will have on staff, Burns said The Inn on the Lake drops from over 200 employees in peak season to about 60 full-and part-time staff over the winter. He will remain on staff through the renovation, along with a few other employees to handle marketing and booking reservations among other duties.

“The phones will always be answered during the day,” he said. “We will have to market the entire property throughout the construction phase.” 

Burns added that staff will be needed before and after renovations, with moving furniture and other facility-related work, and he plans to hire existing staff to do that work. “Instead of waiting tables, they may be carrying in tables,” Burns said.

At the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, President Valerie Knoblauch said the closing of The Inn on the Lake for renovations over the 2019 summer season will pose a challenge.

“This is a prime location and to rival it will be difficult,” she said.

There are 1,200 guest rooms in Ontario County counting hotel and bed and breakfast establishments, a number that is up from previous years due to new hotels in Victor and Geneva. But The Inn on the Lake is special, for its location on the lake and for all it offers, Knoblauch said. The occupancy rate countywide is 90 percent during the summer and “unfortunately we will have some displaced for awhile,” Knoblauch said.

On the revenue side, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection receives 75 percent of its funding from Ontario County's 3 percent lodging tax. “There is a good possibility we will see a decrease in revenue,” Knoblauch said. FLVC had set up a reserve fund for cases such as this so it will be able to continue marketing “and keep the flow,” she said.

“When 2020 comes with this big, beautiful hotel on the lake the average daily rate will go up with the competition,” Knoblauch said, adding: “With every pain comes a little gain.”

According to a release from The Inn on the Lake, the development team includes “world-renowned New York City-based design and development group, Studio Tack, together with Rochester-based design firm, SWBR, LeChase Construction (co-developer of Pinnacle North on Lakeshore Drive), Passero Associates Engineering, and HB Cornerstone.

“Studio Tack specializes in hospitality and is recognized as a global design innovator, hailed for creating uncommon and lasting guest experiences that showcase the locale and culture of the area. In 2017, several international properties designed by Studio Tack were recognized with industry awards, including three properties featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2017 Hot List of Best Hotels in The World: Brentwood Hotel – Saratoga Springs, NY, Casa Bonay – Barcelona Spain, and Scribner’s Catskill Lodge – Catskill Mountains, NY.”

Meanwhile, the announcement comes as the long-stalled Canandaigua Finger Lakes Resort project at the north end of the lake remains in limbo. The site of the skeleton structure on Lakeshore Drive was to be auctioned off over $3.6 million owed a contractor that had filed a mechanic’s lien in 2015. Then in January, Robert Murphy, who along with David Genecco is developing the property, said financing was close to being secured to pay the contractor and continue construction. Polimeni said Tuesday that as far as she knows, that is still true.