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Henderson and Massa Build a Dreamscape out of Innovation and Sorrow
Catskill Mountain News
July 18, 2007
by Trish Adams
“We were filled to the max and then some!” exclaimed an exhausted but enthralled Greg Henderson, looking back on the “opening-a-go-go” of The Roxbury Motel’s much heralded expansion, with its fantastical ‘suites on a many-cultured theme.’ Not only was there the perfectionist’s ultimate punch list to fret about, but the Roxbury’s new rooms got their first “tryout” for a large celebrity guest group when the paint was barely dry.
Jen Gambetese (Tarzan’s Jane on Broadway) and Curtis Creegan, star of “Hi Five,” love the area and decided to say their vows on June 30 at Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm in Halcottsville. The whole neighborhood was awash with enough creatives to mount a Zeigfield Follies revival. “We could never have pulled off this opening weekend without the support and resources of all the area’s seasoned lodging professionals,” said Greg. “People stayed all over the place and had a great time wherever they went. Some of them even went to the vintage baseball game in Fleischmanns! Our expansion opening turned into on ingredient in a ‘knock their socks off’ first impression for a host of entertainment professionals who do not impress easily. I’m happy to report that from Roxbury to Halcottsville, to Margaretville and beyond, we all lived up to our hype,” said Henderson.
Now that the high-end hoopla has cooled off a few degrees, Roxbury proprietors Henderson and Joseph Massa hope that local residents will stop by for a cuppa and a sneak peek into their seven-suite addition, which almost doubles capacity at this “cool contemporary Catskill lodging.” These new rooms build on the wildly popular “Austin Powers Suite” in the original Roxbury renovation. Henderson and Massa created highly stylized riffs on more themes drawn from pop culture and our old television favorites, like George’s Space Pad and Genie’s Bottle and Fred’s Lair. “Let’s be honest,” teases Greg, “didn’t we all fantasize about getting into the genie’s bottle when we were kids, hmmm?”
But Henderson and Massa didn’t go wild before doing their homework: they first considered building a new hotel in another locale nearby. But, when a devastating fire destroyed their beloved “inspiration peaks” home near Perch lake in Andes, they rethought their pan. “We decided to build on what we knew and loved and to continue the creative ideas e had started here, rather than develop a franchise location with its own rules and look.” Henderson hastens to add that the area could certainly benefit from all types of accommodations, “We were turning away people by the dozens every weekend, even in winter. When it comes to comfortable places to stay, the more the merrier. This weekend, with its huge influx of Broadway and Disney professionals, proves that the area is ready for prime time.”
If you think building an “out of this world” retreat requires “out of this county” talent, think again. Local craftsmen and builders Jerry Schor, William Fane, Billy Allison, Dave Cowan, Jeffrey Norwick, Treffeissen and Son, and Tri-County Glass in Oneonta were instrumental in the expansion, and helped prove that world-class architectural work can be done right here at home.
“Local contractor Rick Herrel of Northern Lights was a driving force behind the project once the foundation and framing were up,” added Greg. “We literally couldn’t have done it without him.” Every member of the Roxbury staff also played a role in creative input, finding the perfect accessories, and helping to keep construction crews motivated and upbeat.
Henderson and Massa will son be planning a gala community celebration for all the local folks to come enjoy the sparkling twilight view from the fire pit and celebrate a masterful community achievement. “But please don’t wait for an invitation!” says Greg, “We’re pretty full on weekends but we’d love to show you around any time in the mid-week,” he adds. “Just come as you are, and we’ll supply the wow.”
Can’t wait to take a peek? You can take a virtual tour at www.theroxburymotel.com/rooms. You can scroll through several pictures of every single room (original and new). This part of the website was designed to help lodgers decide which room to book, but it works just as well for the aesthetic voyeur. Drop by as often as you like!
SHIMMER ON – The glitter doesn’t rub off at the new Roxbury Motel expansion: from the magical aquatic glassel colorful stones in the firepit and the spa fireplace to the custom designed splash of glitter in the room tiles to the “ShimmerSpa” and its zen-like gleaming, the sparkle is artfully designed to soothe and delight. “We weren’t trying to create a theme park or a cartoon set,” emphasizes Greg Henderson, “Rather, we wanted to bring you into a stylistic fantasy where every little detail just makes you smile.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT COLOR! – You’ll still see The Roxbury’s signature hues of chartreuse and tangerine in its new expansion (which almost double occupancy!), but the new “themed” suites also cover the spectrum, whether it’s the sophisticated Tiffany teal of Holly-Go-Lightly, the warm and furry earth tones of Fred’s stone-lined grotto (with a mirror crafted of driftwood from England’s Dover Beach), the happy crayola ‘primaries’ of the Partridge Nest, or the sparkly purple and pick gem tones of Genie’s Bottle. Its all about comfort and feeling pampered too, with Gevalia coffee and select wines waiting in you room, high speed Internet at your fingertips, and of course, The Roxbury’s dreamy pillowtop mattresses – even for Fred’s bed.
ROCK ON – Tile and bathtubs were the starting point for each room’s stylistic palette and theme. Bathtubs were originally designed to be a part of each room’s living area but Henderson and Mass decided finally to add some privacy options. “There are teenagers, after all,” said Greg.
IT’S MAGIC? – No nose-twitching or other-worldly powers came into play to create these whimsical room designs, just a Sisyphean mountain of research and aching in every detail. Alright, there was a magical moment when Roxbury guest Chris Kanienberg of Washington, DC, just happened to mention that he was a kinda famous mural artist who specialized in clouds. You can enjoy watching his creation drift by (they really do seem to move…) by staying in “Samantha’s Cloud” or visit Kanienberg’s work at www.wishpainting.com
SIMPLE, YET CONVEX – This gold “bubble” (left) is the reverse side of the concave wall of Genie’s Bottle bathroom. “It was sticking out, right there in the living room of the suite, and we pondered for weeks about how we were going to hide it. Then, eureka, we thought it would be a fun element to highlight.” The solid gold leaf was painstakingly applied by Mary Ann Schor of Roxbury. This is most definitely the Master’s chair!
COOKIE CUTTER CHANDELIER? Hardly! This truly unique five-foot tall chandelier was crafted specifically for the Roxbury by the husband and wife team of Don and Manon Zinzell and took more than two months to execute. The “recipe” required heating 3,000 slender 12-inch plexiglass rods to exactly 310 degrees and then twisting each one like a pretzel onto a wire frame. The Plexiglas hardened quickly, so the artists had only about 30 seconds to work each piece (in protective gloves, of course, because the plexiglass was to hot to handle). In fact, Manon burned herself through several pairs of gloves. Was it worth it? Well, at night the lights from within the chandelier illuminate each bowtie of glass and the rods’ end points also gleam like a thousand points of light. You may have to see it to judge for yourself!
Visit these rooms on-line at www.theroxburymotel.com/rooms
Photos by Dick Sanford and Greg Henderson