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Just in time for Halloween: Grand Island Holiday Inn sold

The Grand Island Holiday Inn has new owners -- and they may already have a tenant.

blog by Ben Kirst  • 

Legend has it that the Grand Island Holiday Inn is haunted by the ghost of a little girl who met a tragic end in the early settler days of the Niagara River community. She can be playful or creepy, depending on the account—in some cases, she is allegedly spotted skipping merrily down the hallways of the 263-room hotel or frolicking playfully in the swimming pool, while in other stories the spirit is a bit spookier and mischievous.

Well, it’s someone else’s problem now. According to the Buffalo News, the hotel is being sold for $4.4 million to a developer who plans to turn the Holiday Inn into a swank resort:

Byblos Hospitality Group of Dubai teamed up with downtown Buffalo developer Roger Trettel and a Buffalo General Medical Center surgeon, bidding $4 million for the 263-room property along the Niagara River.

Plans are still being developed, but Trettel said the new owners want significant upgrades and renovations to the hotel to make it more of a resort in line with the company’s properties in the United Arab Emirates, which he said are four-star hotels with multiple restaurants in each. “It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity and location,” Trettel said. “We’re really excited about it. It’s a spectacular location and underutilized. We feel we can do a lot more with it.”

The purchase brings some stability to a property that has struggled through some financial ups-and-downs over the past decade. Trettel, a Grand Island resident himself, also noted that the existing staff would likely be retained.

So what’s the story with this ghost? Joe Nickell of the Center for Skeptical Inquiry writes that “...The Holiday Inn’s child ghost ‘Tanya’ apparently originated with an impressionable maid who was cleaning (a) fourth-floor room shortly after the hotel opened in 1973. The housekeeper suddenly glimpsed a little girl standing in the doorway and, startled, dropped a couple of drinking glasses. When she looked up again, the child was gone.” The maid, Nickell continues, claimed she was subsequently trapped in the room by her drink cart. I can empathize, as I have also been trapped in a hotel room by spirits and drinks, albeit of the liquid variety, and generally the morning after they have been consumed.

Bobby Band, a contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, identifies himself as an overnight front desk clerk/ auditor for the Holiday Inn and wrote a solid article about the ghost’s supposed origins. Band reports that the little girl ghost was the daughter of a sawmill operator who died in a tragic fire, or perhaps a young settler who wandered away in the night and was never found.

Band also writes that “...To this day long distance calls are made from rooms where no guest is registered and no house keepers have entered. Guests and employees alike have received calls on the house phones from empty rooms with only a faint sound of a child giggling on the other end. Guests regularly call the front desk with complaints of a child jumping on the bed above them and when someone is sent to ask them to stop they find that there are no guests in the room or the ones surrounding it.” That’s a little odd, right?

A cursory glance through Trip Advisor shows that the hotel seems to be haunted by the ghost of mixed reviews, but I do commend their management’s fast response to criticism online. And, in fairness, the hotel isn’t the only haunted site on Grand Island— theshadowlands.net (an awesomely spooky site, by the way) reports that a husband and wife team from the University at Buffalo who conducted an archaeological dig on the island in the 1970s got the Blair Witch treatment from an apparently malevolent source. Perhaps this was the dig at the Martin site on the southeastern shore of the island, where native people reportedly lived as long ago as 3500 B.C.? Plenty of time for scary doings.

Best of luck to Trettel and the Byblos Hospitality Group on their planned renovation of the Holiday Inn. Hopefully, they will find room for the one guest who never leaves.

Photo from Flickr / JimsFlicker.

TAGGED: ghosts, grand island, haunted houses, holiday inn, roger trettel, tanya

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