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A Boutique Motel

High-concept design takes center stage at upstate New York’s Roxbury.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Tracy E Hopkins
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If the thought of staying in a motel still conjures scary images of the Bates Motel, then you haven’t been to the Roxbury, a thematic boutique motel in the picturesque Catskills.

“At the risk of sounding like I have an inflated ego,” said co-owner Greg Henderson, “there’s nothing quite like us anywhere.”

Henderson designed every aspect of the Roxbury, which he and his business and life partner Joseph Massa purchased as a run-down, ‘60s roadside motel. They opened it as the Roxbury in 2004, filling a void for lodging in an area without a functioning hotel in over 75 years.

Since it opened, the 27-room property has had two expansions – most recently in 2010, which expanded the property with an 8,000 square foot North Wing. The motel generally sells out on weekends year-round. Henderson’s combined business savvy and flair for theatrics make it a standout vacation destination.

“It’s not just bold design. We call it whimsical elegance,” said Henderson. “We’ve been able to achieve a delicate balance of having a theme but not falling too much into the kitsch factor.”

Many of the rooms were inspired by TV shows, cartoons and films from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Room types include two artfully decorated studio rooms (one has a floor-to-ceiling painting of interconnected tree branches) and seven kitchenettes with colorful décor details like lime green bathroom walls, polka dot bedding, dramatic black and white Baroque-inspired wallpaper, and aqua suede chairs. One of the five studio theme rooms is Fred’s Lair, inspired by the Flinstones and designed to look like a cave.

The expanded North Wing houses five big king theme rooms, including the disco ball-accented Tony’s Dancefloor inspired by Saturday Night Fever; and eight lofted suites including the opulent Amadeus’ Bride suite with an illuminated bust of Venus de Milo.

“It’s like a chicken or the egg thing. Sometimes we know we want to do a room inspired by a show because the show inspired us so much,” explained Henderson. “[But] with the Genie’s Bottle suite, I didn’t know how we were going to do that until I saw an amazing wallpaper in a shop in Palm Springs. In another room, I saw a glass vessel sink with a cool flower power pattern on it, so I designed an entire room around the sink. That room didn’t have a specific show [theme], but it ended up looking like the set from Laugh In or the Newlywed Game.”

Luxurious amenities include 600-thread count bedding, Egyptian cotton towels, and 75-gallon dual-person soaking bathtubs with dual showerheads in the big king theme rooms. To add to the motel’s theatrical ambiance, 47 varieties of light bulbs are used throughout the property.

Like a classic motel, guests enter all rooms from the outside. The last room to be completed – Maryann's Coconut Cream Pie – was inspired by the mysterious baking habits of Mary Ann on Gilligin’s Island. The room took six months to complete due to the complexity of the pie crust-shaped ceiling.

“It could fall into kitsch,” Henderson acknowledged, “but the rest of the room has elegant, tropical themes.”

The Roxbury has two spa spaces -- the new Shimmer Spa North awash in shades of sapphire and the original Shimmer Spa South with green tile made from recycled car windshields -- complete with a sauna, steam room, hot tub, relaxation room and couples treatment room. Guests can access either spa space for $20 per stay.

Editor's Note: Read more about the hoteliers behind the Roxbury in next week's E-News.
Tracy E Hopkins
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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