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The Lake House

When Vogue Magazine listed the most anticipated hotel openings for 2020 there was a rumble through our community. The magazine cited properties in Paris, Palm Beach, Palermo and…Canandaigua Lake, a mere 10 miles from our Farmington NY campus–The Lake House, a project we were already intimately familiar with.


The Sandbar located in the Canandaigua, NY
We want to help people understand what hospitality truly means. We want to set a new standard of taking hospitality and guest experience to a level never before seen,” shared project manager/developer, Bill Caleo in a Finger Lakes Times article. Bill is co-founder of The Brooklyn Home Company and grandson of Marvin and Micky Sands of Canandaigua Wine Co. and then Constellation Brands.


We’ve had the privilege of engineering, crafting, raising, and enclosing timber frames for the property’s iconic Sand Bar and their Event Barn. Located on the north shore of Canandaigua Lake the Sand Bar was the first project on the grounds to open. It’s a great place for good food and drink, with indoor and outdoor dining. Our team stopped out to enjoy some sunshine, golden fries, crispy chicken, and socially distanced libations. Situated right next to the water, the views from inside or under the exterior timber frame are quintessential Finger Lakes beauty.  


View of Canadaigua Lake from the outside patio area
“We truly believe Rochester and the Finger Lakes are one of the most beautiful places on earth,” said Doug Bennett, co-developer with Bill, in a D&C Article. “As many of you know, the word Canandaigua means Chosen Place. We believe this hotel is going to help the world understand what that truly means.”


A longtime local institution, the Sand Bar originally opened in 1994. It became a popular, casual hangout spot with live music and festivities. The rejuvenated Sand Bar preserved the character that made it a favorite, including giving a nod to the Lake’s rich boating history with a wooden 1955 Peterborough boat mounted on the ceiling and following a nautical theme throughout. Overall the structure, including the timber frame, was inspired by the old wooden ‘shack’ cottages and cabins that originally dotted the lakeshore. 


Interior view looking out towards Canandaigua Lake
The more rugged design fits the seasonal space with the timber frame allowing a simple wall structure and clean lines with easy transition from inside to outside.


Paying homage to location and history, the painted timbers remind us of the white topsides of a boat, with the added green bootstripe, then natural wooden bottom. The Douglas fir frame has a few gable-end timber cross bracings and a big clerestory to bring light down into the interior making it a nice, bright space during the day.


The large timber frame interior features a large boat hanging from the rafters.


Adjacent to the Sand Bar is the barn-style timber frame event space. This design is particularly popular in our agrarian region. A place for weddings and more, other ‘standard’ options were explored, but nothing quite matched the look and feel of heavy timber mortise and tenon construction for the celebratory shelter. Final details are in the works for the large space; we’ve heard it is already booked out for 2022!


Rendering of our Barn portion of the event center


We collaborated with several local companies for The Lake House property including SWBR and LeChase Construction. The overall reconstruction and redesign was done by New York-based firm Studio Tack in collaboration with Sands family-owned design house The Brooklyn Home Company. The hotel has 125 rooms, 70% with lake views, each spacious and intended to make visitors feel as if they are in their own private cottage on the lake. There is an outdoor pool, a destination spa, and a world-class wellness center, plus a new signature restaurant, Rose Tavern, featuring locally-sourced ingredients and stellar wines from the Finger Lakes.

In each part of the project, it is clear that it was lovingly conceived of and created, combining nostalgic familiarity of local lake living and modern design sensibilities, while paying particular attention to sustainability. We really enjoyed playing a role in this rejuvenation in our community and we think it is worth the visit!


Other Credits: Fire Tower Engineered Timber,

 Photography: Gene Avallone