WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Cambria Hotel officially opened its first New Jersey location last week with a celebratory ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for the new West Orange site at 12 Rooney Circle.
Members of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, including several local business owners, as well as members of the governing body, the West Orange Human Relations Commission, Public Relations Committee, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the West Orange Zoning Board—which approved the hotel’s construction—joined together in the new hotel lobby to commemorate its opening.
In Mayor Robert Parisi’s absence, council member Susan McCartney welcomed members of the Cambria Hotel management company to the township. Bharat Patel, chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of Sun Development & Management Corp., said that despite delays in the project—making Cambria “one of the longest construction projects” ever undertaken by the company—"it’s a great day for West Orange.”
Although this was Sun Development’s 63rd grand opening overall and the 41st opening of a Cambria Hotel, Mark Shalala, vice president of development for Choice Hotels, noted that the West Orange location is the first Cambria to land in New Jersey, with more properties on the way.
“This grand opening not only celebrates this hotel, but everyone’s hard work and dedication, which led to something truly memorable,” said Shalala. “The team here has worked tirelessly to bring this beautiful property to life, so I just want to thank everybody for all the efforts and I want to thank everyone locally, the chamber and the mayor, and everyone who approved the hotel and made it possible from that perspective. We thank you for welcoming us to the community.”
Michael Callahan, general manager for Cambria West Orange, explained that Cambria’s product brand is “all about approachable indulgence.” He continued that this means guests can indulge in the hotel’s offerings without feeling “buttoned up” like they might at a Ritz-Carlton. Cambria prides itself on not only being an upscale brand, but also “loose” and “relaxed,” he said.
This is reflected in Cambria West Orange’s aesthetic appeal, which sets itself apart from other hotel chains.
Callahan mentioned that in order “to make sure that we are a part of the local community,” Cambria West Orange has incorporated touches that make it unique to the township. This ranges from a feature wall of Thomas Edison’s filament lightbulb in hotel rooms to the locally themed menu items including the “West Orange Benedict,” a local take on Eggs Benedict and the general manager’s favorite dish.
Another aspect that differentiates Cambria from other hotel brands is that all menu items are locally sourced. Cambria West Orange has partnerships with New Jersey breweries with craft beers from locations such as Hackettstown, Fairfield, Cherry Hill and North Bergen.
“As far as what we do here is, we take care of our guests,” said Callahan, who has worked in the hotel industry for nearly 20 years, ever since his mother told him to get a job at 16 years old. “Ultimately, the building can be beautiful as you want it to be, but it’s all about the friendliness and the cleanliness of the building. That’s what it all boils down to; that’s what hospitality is.”
Upon walking into the hotel lobby, guests were greeted by Cambria’s friendly staff and given a “passport” allowing them to visit various rooms throughout the hotel. This included the 24-hour fitness room, poolroom, meeting room, the hotel restaurant called “The Local” and the various selections of rooms, which include a king-size suite and a double-bed suite.
In addition to being treated to live music by local pianist Jim Keefe, guests also enjoyed complementary samplings of The Local’s menu, a variety of unique cocktails and an introduction to a new craft beer from Yale Terrace Brewery in Cranford.
On the future of Cambria West Orange, Callahan said that he faces a challenge after being handed the keys to a brand-new hotel.
“Let’s keep it brand new for as long as we possibly can,” he said. “Because it shines, and we want to continue to shine.”