ADVISOR - The Fargo...not a very good experience Review: "Wonderful Aurora Inn"
October 22, 2008: Cortland, NY We were graciously greeted everywhere we went within the
attached village market also owned by the Inn. Coffee delivery to our
room was a nice, thoughtful touch, even though we didn't really like
the coffee. The only complaint we had was that the food was good,
although we expected better. ... The Fargo
however, a local bar and grill also owned by the Inn, was not a very
good experience. The service was OK, the food was alright, the portions
tiny, and the prices OUTRAGEOUS for what you got.
stay away from Dories, if you're in the area. We went to this cute
little coffee and ice cream cafe interested in dessert and lattes. We
were not greeted when we walked in the door, we waited for at least 5
minutes until the girl working even acknowledged us... An hour
before closing time she basically refused to serve us because she was
closing soon. We insisted, as this is the only place to get dessert and
coffee in town, and she reluctantly gave in. She treated us as an
annoyance our entire time here. She made my husbands latte wrong, and
our desserts were stale. We will not be returning here. TRIP
ADVISOR - Abhorrent and Legally Actionable?! Review: "Aurora Inn - Bizarre"
October, 2007: Beaufort, South Carolina
My Step Mother and I visited there on October 3, 2007. Upon arrival we
were greeted by a very nice person. We took our evening meal at the
restaurant within the Inn. Service was acceptable The food was probably
6 on a 10 scale.
The following morning as we were about to depart for a wine tour
planned by Carly, she called me on the phone and requested a meeting in
my room. I consented.
She and another lady came to my room and Carly advised that my Mother
and I had been abusive to the receptionist. She further advised that we
had been likewise abusive to the server at dinner the preceding
evening. She went on to let me know that the two of us were banned from
the restaurant because of our behavior.
When I inquired about speaking with our accusers Carly informed me that
neither was at work.
Since I am a Trial Lawyer with almost 40 years experience, I asked if
this was similar to a trial and conviction in abstentia. Carly said she
thought so or words to that effect.
We decided we had enough fun for her 85th birthday. A decision was
taken to check out.
Tammy the limousine driver inquired as to the reason for the early
departure. When she was informed we had verbally abused the
receptionist upon arrival, Tammy dissented.
Indeed she stated she was present when we checked in and heard no such
thing. To the contrary, she advised both me and my 85 year old step
mother that we were both pleasant and agreeable.
I can only assume that Carly has a serious hormonal imbalance or
perhaps something even more serious. I wrote to the owner Ms. Sue
Edinger to no current avail.
Today I learned from my son, Shipp D. Harris, Jr, that he had received
a hateful email concerning alleged bad behavior at dinner at the Aurora
Dining Room. He has no idea where it came from and deleted it.
I consider all of the above abhorrent and most likely legally
actionable. As I consider my options I refuse to take litigation off
A simple written apology to me and my step mother would solve all of
One should seriously consider if they want to stay at this Inn. There
are better options I am told.
ADVISOR - 30th Wedding Anniversary Ruined Review: "Stoney silence from the Aurora Inn"
August, 2007: Trip Advisor Member, New Jersey
...I booked three nights in the beginning of August to celebrate our
30th wedding anniversary... On our anniversary we arrived back at the
Inn in the late afternoon to discover our air conditioning was not
working. Our room was very hot. I received a very lukewarm reassurance
from the front desk on whether the repair man would come.
The handyman came when we were at dinner... and was still in our room
when we arrived. back He attempted to leave on several occassions
claiming the air was fixed even though it was clear to us that we still
did not have air conditioning. He changed the thermostat and pronounced
that the job was complete... He did something to a pump and pronounced
the job was complete. He kept on arguing with us when we said there was
no air coming out. Anyway, about 9:30 PM he went up into the bathroom
ceiling and the air came on.
The whole time this man was in our room not one employee of the Inn
came up. We had to supervise the job ourselves and beg this guy not to
leave. It was a real circus.
Our 30th anniversary night was ruined. The room was finally cooled off
I had discussed with the front desk...that I did not want to pay for
the room that night. We did have the room cooled by 11:30PM so I did
not expect a full refund, however when we checked out they gave us a
$30 credit! The person at the front desk said this was all she could
authorize herself but a manager would call me at home...I believed her.
Needless to say no one from the Aurora Inn contacted me. I have emailed
the General Manager twice ... and have never received a response. I
even emailed the President of Wells College (since they own a
significant share of the Inn) and have not received a response.
Some other service issues...On the night of our anniverary we...we went
into the dining room and the hostess lead us to a small table stuck
between two side windows. When I asked for a table by the window in the
uncrowded dinning room she said they were reserved. I explained that it
was our wedding anniversary, we had no air conditioning (she wanted to
sit us outside in the humid evening) and she still would not give us
the table. We asked to see the manger and she promptly gave us the
table. No one came into the dining room while we were there for the
other empty window side table...
I also warn you that they do weddings on the weekends with bands
outside. This, of course makes your room very noisy until things wrap
For three nights we spent a total to $1200 (3 nights lodging and two
nights dinner). We are not demanding, fussy people. We just want to be
treated fairly and nicely.
I think the Inn is lovely but there are serious service issues. I can
not recommend it.
THE TRUTH -
Honest rating of Rowland's Aurora Inn Made before site gets flooded with phony reviews
In unbiased reviews, the Aurora Inn rates"poor" a mere 3.3 out of 10,
below Auburn's Days Inn (5.4) and Super-8 Motel (4.5), and far below
the area Holiday Inns (6.4 and 7.0) and Microtels (7.3 and 7.2).
- Listings No reviews for Rowland's businesses yet
But Rowland's LLC management team registered both the Aurora Inn
and the E.B.
Morgan House with Pink Choice, at the site's most expensive
advertising level, as "gay and lesbian friendly" properties. So maybe
that will help generate some more phony rave reviews. (Or maybe we
could hope for more honesty from this quarter, who knows?)
REAL DEAL - Not the Pleasant Version MacKenzie-Childs opens new store
When in Aurora, be sure to visit the new store owned and operated by
the original creative artists Richard and Victoria Mackenzie-Childs, HOME AGAIN. It's open
Wednesday through Sunday, 11AM to 6PM, and is located 5 miles south of
the village in the extraordinary MacKenzie-Childs home at 1671 State
Route 90. Several years ago, Pleasant Rowland bought-up the
MacKenzie-Childs, Ltd. business headquartered north of the Aurora, and
it has floundered ever since. Rowland is now bringing a lawsuit against Richard
and Victoria over their right to use their own names!
ADVISOR - Horrible service at Aurora Inn Review: "This Place is a Joke!"
April, 2006: A TripAdvisor Member, Upstate NY
After an...awful drive to this hotel, I couldnt believe how BAD the
service was. From Check In to Check Out with the mean front desk guy
Dan who is like something out of a bad book. to ordering Breakfast, to
ordering Dinner it was horrible, the service the food quality
The Staff was outright rude, and not only at the hotel, but everywhere.
Even when I left the hotel and walked down the street the townspeople
were rude, obviously the townspeople do not like the managment of the
Inn, I'm not sure what the whole story is but until there are changes
with the management and staff I will not be back, and will not
reccommend the Aurora Inn to anyone, which is a shame because the place
looks very nice, but looks can be deceiving. If things do not change at
this hotel I will bet money it will not be open in 5 years.
Those who know anything about American history, architecture, or
preservation will see immediately that this is NOT a restoration or
even a rehabilitation. The 1833 Aurora Inn was fully gutted and totally
remodeled, with its floor plan re-invented and its facades severely
altered with no concern whatsoever for historic reality. Nothing is
left of the original structure except some brick and a little salvaged
woodwork. The owner's promotion of this senseless vandalism as
"restoration" is utterly false and misleading, a cynical attempt to
cash in on heritage tourism.
Had we done our research first, we never would have given our business
here. We've since discovered that the National Trust for Historic
Preservation brought a lawsuit trying to stop this so-called
restoration -- that's how bad it was!
On check-in, we swallowed our disappointment and decided to try and
experience the Aurora Inn as modern "luxury" accomodation. We found it
fell short in terms of service, food, and comfort. Our room's
advertised "village view" was of limited appeal -- the bar across the
street -- and noise from the abundant truck traffic made sitting on the
balcony porch less than idyllic. The room itself felt very cramped,
overstuffed with overly-large furniture. Our one dinner there was
mediocre and over-priced with very slow service (even though the dining
room was nearly empty). The front staff desk was not welcoming on
arrival, and became defensive when later asked a few basic questions
about the building's original configuration and the village's history.
The Aurora Inn has a very long way to go before it becomes anything
like the high-quality retreat it pretends to be. But NEVER should it be
called an historic country inn. Not any more. And that's a crying shame.
ADVISOR - Nice, but... Review: "We wondered where the management was"
July 21, 2006: A TripAdvisor Member
We stayed one night at the Aurora Inn...Our room overlooked the village
and we had a large but not private deck. Coffee delivery in the morning
was a nice touch. We had dinner and breakfast at the Inn. The food was
not wonderful and a little below what I had expected but not bad.
Overall the experience was fine but there were so many little things
that could have been done to make it wonderful that we wondered where
the management was.
I felt that the woman doing the check-in was more interested in showing
me the details of the restoration than making sure that we were
comfortable. At dinner, although there were other tables available, we
were seated at a small dark table next to a group of rather noisy
golfers. It could have been worse, the next table over was in a doorway
and the wait staff kept making a short cut through it, frequently
passing within inches of the diners. It rained overnight. When we came
down for breakfast it was a beautiful day but the outside tables were
not available for breakfast because the staff, who were not otherwise
occupied, didnâ€™t take the ten minutes it would have taken to
wipe down the tables. We were seated in front of French doors that were
l covered with mist so that we couldnâ€™t see to the beautiful
lake below. Again, a little wipe down would have made all the
difference. These are all small things but if this inn is trying for a
very upscale image, I think that a little more attention to these
details and better food is called for.
ADVISOR - Unfriendly staff at Aurora Inn Review: "Gorgeous but cold"
Feb 6, 2006: A TripAdvisor Member, upstate NY
We spent one night at the Aurora Inn... Overall, the place was
beautiful and comfortable, but the service was chilly -- the staff were
polite, but not the least bit welcoming.
Before we arrived, we called to ask about things to do in Ithaca (south
of Aurora). The person at the front desk made no effort to help us --
he said he really didn't know much about Ithaca, and I felt that I was
imposing on him by even asking. Once we arrived, we were thrilled with
our room, which was beautifully furnished, and had a view of the lake
(Cayuga). Dinner that night at the Inn's restaurant was very good -- my
husband's entree was excellent, but mine was a bit ordinary for the
When we left, the staff at the front desk were chatting with each
other, and no one said good-bye as we checked out... I felt that the
staff was lacking in warmth, and were a bit perfunctory in all their
interactions with us.
AURORA INN - Home of the
$46 Turkey Buffet! Are they serious?
An absurdly over-priced "special" dinner in December featuring readings
from "the side-splitting Charles Dickens" raised the question of how
that author -- not a comedian, but a brilliant observer of human nature
and passionate critic of social injustice -- would portray an aloof
billionaire who fires
parents within weeks of Christmas.
11/11/05 - To the Mayor "They will do exactly what they want and everyone else here can be
...When [Pleasant] took the Fargo away, in the face of such a
calamourous reaction against the move, she displayed a very obvious
disdain for the residents of Aurora. ...I believe Rowland took the
Fargo to solidify her control over this village, to shape the town to
her personal mores and tastes, and to remove any enterprise that does
not fit her narrow notion of tourist-friendly. ....I dislike being
marginalized in my home by a billionaire from another state for the
benefit of visitors who come here to stay a night or two. I am not
anti-tourist, ...but to tailor the entire town -- every business -- to
appeal to and serve tourists is not acceptablee...
It seems that the only thing I have been able to do that has received
any reaction at all from the LLC has been to park my [protest] car
downtown. ...I have decided to resume parking my car downtown. To not
do so would imply that I have accepted the LLC's decisions for our
community...and that I believe the LLC is acting in the best interest
of Aurora's residents. I do not.
Nor do others in Aurora -- no small number of whom, because of the
LLC's stranglehold on employment and commerce here, fear exhibiting any
public opposition to Rowland. I have been told by numerous people how
grateful they were that I am speaking out, because in their position,
they felt they could not...
I hold a deep conviction that resisting this sanitization and
homogenization of our village is in the best interest of the village of
Aurora. ...I do understand that nothing stays the same, and that change
is inevitable with the passing of time. But the style, pace, and scope
of the changes Rowland has wrought are disturbing and disheartening to
me, so I have decided not to give her "vision" my tacit endorsement by
remaining silent about it. ...
ADVISOR - Left Aurora Inn Thoroughly Unsatisfied Advice: "Get it in Writing!"
August, 2005: A TripAdvisor
Member, Philadelphia PA
Would I stay at this location again: no way!
User Rating: 1 of 5
I made a reservation at Aurora Inn over a month before our scheduled
trip. We reserved 3 nights: Wed, Aug 10 - Sat, Aug 13. I specifically
requested a lakeside view and agreed to stay in the nearby "French
House" (also owned & operated by Aurora Inn) because the inn itself
had no lake-view rooms available. One week before our trip, I called
the inn and confirmed our reservation and the lake-view room.
When we arrived, we were told that our reservation was for a
village-view room. I insisted on having a lake-view room and repeated
the story of making the reservation and confirming it. The innkeeper
informed me that they had changed computer systems twice since the time
of my original reservation. She assured me that even though she had to
manually re-enter all of the reservation info at least two times, she
was sure her data entry matched the original records completely.
I asked when a lake-view room would become available and was told that
2 rooms were vacant at the moment, but we could not have either of them
because they were reserved by other couples! I asked her to verify
whether those reservations were made before ours, and she refused to
look up that information. She would not allow us to have one of the
rooms because she would not be able to justify it to those other
couples or have a paper trail for the change -- as if she WAS able to
jusify it to us or show us a paper trail!
We suspect that our reservation was conveniently changed by the inn,
perhaps because the other visitors would stay for more nights (i.e.,
more money). The innkeeper was uncooperative, unable to give us any
documentation of the original reservation, and seemed to be convinced
that her establishment was so fabulous that they could pull a bait
& switch. She did offer a 10% discount on the village-view room
($180 instead of $200; lake-view was $250). But I informed her that we
would have booked elsewhere had they not guarenteed & confirmed the
lake-view. We left thoroughly unsatisfied.
Fortunately, we were able to find a room for those 3 nights at the Glass Magnolia Inn in
Interlaken, NY. It may not have been quite as elegant or snooty as
Aurora Inn, but it was much more convenient to the wine trails, and it
was less than half the price!
If you must stay at the Aurora Inn, insist on getting your
reservation confirmed IN WRITING. Even then, it might be smart to have
CRITICAL CUSTOMER Letter to Inn Management
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Since I'm unable to find a General Manager's name, I'm forced to
address this in a general fashion....
When phoning you for accommodations, I requested availability on the
King Suite in the main inn. Bonnie said it was not available and I was
offered "similar" accommodations in the French House. There is, of
course, no suite in the French House. Secondly, I was not informed that
there was no internet access nor an elevator in this building. Yes, the
setting is grand and the view spectacular. Indeed, I'd have probably
have taken the accommodations anyway, but would have appreciated being
informed about the lack of certain facilities.
...We enjoyed the staff's attention and cuisine. However, yesterday
morning at 7:45 am there was no one in the dining room to serve
breakfast or even present a menu. We gave up and had breakfast in
Auburn. Iâ€™m also a bit amazed that, while you claim to be a
"luxury inn", the orange juice was poured out of a small soda bottle
and the scones were "dead".
The turndown service in French House was inconsistent. Some evenings,
towels were changed, some not. The light in the shower remained out
during our entire stay and the colony of spiders between the bathroom
window and screen remained as well as cobwebs in one lamp. Needless to
say, opening the window was not an attractive option...
The front desk was helpful in allowing me to access my e-mail and the
internet for a short time each afternoon. This all ended on Thursday
when Cindy rudely informed me that I could not access the internet due
to "security issues". This is, to put it mildly, malarkey. There was
also much scurrying at all times plus the desk was left unattended. The
Sunday "New York Times" was out upon our arrival, but no other paper,
except the "Times" synopsis, was available during the rest of our
In conclusion, we hope that the issues detailed above can be addressed.
It's even more puzzling that with one of the world's premier hotel
schools, Cornell, about a half hour away that the Aurora Foundation
can't or won't take advantage of this resource for training....
MONOPOLY NOT A GAME IN AURORA Letter in local newspaper, spring 2005
The village of Aurora has become, in the classic economic sense of the
word, a monopoly -- that which inhibits economic freedom by denying
individuals alternatives to exchange.
Five years ago, Aurora had an
independent grocery store, an independent newspaper and ice cream
shop, a local hardware store, a masseur, a gift shop, a locally owned
dress shop, a flower shop owned and run by a town resident, a bar run
by a local proprietor, and Mackenzie Childs, a nationally recognized
pottery and home furnishings manufacturer founded and run by two local
Other than the hardware store and dress shop, almost
all other economic transactions within the village must be now be made
with the Aurora Foundation, which runs the Inn, the grocery store, the
ice cream shop, the flower shop, the local bar, and Mackenzie Childs.
This is a fact. In a recently published letter, George Farenthold,
Aurora Village Trustee and husband of Wells College president Lisa
Ryerson, wrote that the statement that there had been a "corporate
takeover" of Aurora was "ridiculous on its face." The facts show
The other significant economic entity in town is Wells College. The
Aurora Foundation and Wells College have a very intimate association.
Mr. Farenthold called the relationship between the College and the
Aurora Foundation a "unique partnership," but others might call it a
cartel, or a business combination.
Regardless of what you call the relationship between the college and
the Aurora Foundation, the combined entities control almost every
business, nearly of all of Aurora's real estate, and are the source of
virtually all of the jobs available within the village. So what if
Aurora is a company town? Why does it matter if power is tightly
consolidated in a small village? It matters because it impinges on the
economic, political, and individual freedoms of its residents.
...What if you are a town official and you also work for the Aurora
Foundation LLC or Wells College and the LLC or Wells college puts
forth a proposal that they desperately want to get passed and you feel
is not in the interests of the village? Should you be concerned for
your job?...What if a resident wants to rent property from the College
to start a business that competes with the Aurora Foundation LLC? Would
College rent to you?...What if your opinions about what is going on in
the town are contrary
to those of the Aurora Foundation LLC? Well, Pleasant Rowland might
ban you from all of the LLC facilities...As things stand now in Aurora,
Ms. Rowland has that power....
MANAGERIAL MISTREATMENT Email from a "disgruntled bride"
Last year in June I contacted the Aurora Inn about having my dream
wedding at the Inn. I was told to speak to the events coordinator who
at the time was Scott Merrick. Scott was
wonderful...so I went ahead and made plans to have me wedding with my
date on hold.
At the time Scott was unable to send me the menu options I requested, I
was told that the menus were being changed for the new year...I should
have been concerned at this point but I thought, this is a year off I
can wait. Scott was wonderful at keeping me notified and holding my
hand and helping me and my mother remain calm.
So as summer turned to Fall my future husband and our parents planned a
trip to Aurora to do a walk through with our parents... Scott had
agreed to come in on his day off to meet with us. When we arrived on
Sunday and asked the front desk woman to let Scott know we were here,
we were rudely told by her "Mr. Merrick doesn't work here anymore."
When we asked who we would speak to since this was a complete shock to
us, we were told that the position wasn't filled yet but that the
general manager would be in on Monday and we could call her then.
I said that this was unacceptable and that we wanted to speak to
someone now! After waiting for a half hour (and by now I was in tears),
a very poised but COLD woman named Jennifer came to the front desk and
explained that Mr. Merrick is no longer employed by the Inn but she
would answer any questions.
This is not what I wanted to hear. I had developed a relationship with
Scott, and I wanted to know where he went and what happened, was he
okay could I contact him?
Jennifer told us if we could locate his number we could call but she
would not give it out. All she would tell me was that Mr. Merrick was
not a "good fit" for the Aurora Inn and that someone more to the Inn's
"level of service" would be hired.
I was heartbroken to find that Scott was gone, but the date was on hold
and I loved this Inn so I figured we would make it work. Well, after
Scott left I NEVER, received any other information, and no other phone
calls from the Inn. I called on five seperate times and left messages,
with no return calls. I left messages for Sue Edinger the GM, even to
Katie Waller and NEVER got a call back.
My wedding was NOT held at the Aurora Inn this summer, in fact it was
not even held on Cayuga Lake, we moved the wedding to Kueka Lake
I want everyone who reads this to know, that Mr. Scott Merrick was a
consimate professional whos sense of humor and delightful personality
sold me completely on the Aurora Inn. With him gone I am sure the Inn
is still a beautiful shell with absolutely no heart inside and that is
a true shame.
Scott if you see this and I hope you do, you deserve so much more then
the Aurora Inn could offer you, much success to you.
Amanda (and Michael), Boston MA
[Maybe the Pleasant Management decided this couple wasn't a "good
fit" for the Inn, either, and will provide receptions only to
"approved" individuals who fit the strange LLC customer mold, like
Hoffman Institue grads...?]
NEW FRONTIERS IN CUSTOMER RELATIONS Email from an Aurora resident
I've been banned from the Inn. So says the dining room manager and a
front desk clerk.
Well, maybe not banned YET (says Sue Edinger, the manager) when I
demanded an explanation from her, but "things don't look like they are
I am one of the few town people who go to and have supported the Inn.
They have been keeping a dossier for the past year and a half on my
behavior, and recording "overheard conversation". It is obvious that
some of the waitstaff spies on customers and reports back to the
They read to me from the dossier on Saturday, putting me (their
customer) on the hot seat. It was all fabrications and exaggerations.
In some cases they had me mixed up with other people. Fortunately I
have witnesses to support my words.
Why should a paying customer be treated this way? Why should I have to
defend myself to them?
I'll tell you why: because it is not about being a paying customer. The
money doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that Pleasant
Rowland be able to control our behavior. It is about control and ego
not money. That kind of business won't work......but then again in this
case - in a financial sense - it doesn't have to.
Pleasant Rowland has been playing with dolls for too long.
Yes, I am furious.
PS "Things don't look like they are working out" here in town, for the
[Is this an attempt to annoy, intimidate, and/or humiliate a gal who
has been involved with the Vehicular Protest? Compiling a "dossier"
from eavesdropping on a customer? Where, when, and to whom are LLC
employees listening? What information is being collected? Are staff
told to eavesdrop in all LLC locations? Are the guest rooms at the Inn
and French House bugged -- that would be logical -- or do the chamber
maids just lurk outside the doors and listen at the keyholes?]
George W. Bush has Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother camped outside
Bush's Crawford, Texas vacation retreat, who would like to talk to the
president about the war in Iraq. Pleasant Rowland, the Madison
businesswoman and philanthropist, has Elizabeth "Lili" MacCormick, a
74-year-old grandmother who for the past month has parked her 1989 red
Chevrolet pickup in front of the Aurora Inn in Aurora, N.Y., in hopes
of having a word with Rowland, who in the past few years has invested
heavily in the tiny village, to the delight of some residents and
dismay of others.
Sunday's Syracuse Post-Standard had an article (Bumping Heads in Aurora)
about MacCormick, an Aurora resident since 1958, and her truck, which
has bumper stickers on it that say, "Aurora was Pleasant before" and
"May your community never be turned into a corporation-run theme park."
Rowland, a graduate of Aurora's Wells College, has set up a foundation
that has bought or refurbished various Aurora buildings and businesses,
including most recently the Fargo, a funky local pub that some locals
feel has been gentrified to its great detriment.
"The bumper sticker war is kind of silly," MacCormick told the Syracuse
paper, "but it's a statement. It seems to be the only way to get their
attention. I have written letters, but they're not responded to. Her
attitude is, 'The locals don't matter.' It would be lovely to have her
actually talk to people, let us know what she has in mind and listen to
our concerns. It would make an enormous difference."