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Sue Edinger, General Manager
A Skaneateles native, Sue holds a degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Upon graduation, Sue joined Guest Quarters Hotels, the first suite-only hospitality company. Sue has always been attracted to small business models, where “[she is] able to have a great impact and live in the day-to-day details.” After five years, Sue ventured in 1986 to join four co-workers in creating Hospitality Partners in Washington D.C.
By 2003, the company operated 16 hotels and managed a staff of 1,400 employees. Throughout those years, Sue frequently visited family in Skaneateles and dined and stayed at the Aurora Inn a number of times. Growing up, Sue has memories of boating on the Western shore of Cayuga Lake and has felt ever-connected to the Finger Lakes.
In 2003, Pleasant Rowland encouraged Sue to join her mission of restoring historic properties and bringing life to Aurora. Rowland recognized the importance of women’s leadership, and Sue has been a trailblazer for gender equality in the workplace. Ninety days after that initial meeting, the Aurora Inn was open for business. During those three months, Sue built a team of talented and hard-working people and an entire company structure—working mostly from a restaurant booth in the village.
Sue believes fundamentally in a participatory style of management, and places a strong emphasis on teamwork, charismatic leadership, and intellectual curiosity. She comments: “I’m so proud of the many different people that have and do work here. For a small operation in a small village, it’s absolutely remarkable how much talent and hard work people have brought to the table. The caliber of people in this area—and how much they care about its sense of history—is extraordinary.” Aside from working alongside her team, Sue enjoys cranberry seltzer water, Cliff nutrition bars, soccer league, and a day of sunshine out on the boat.
Meryl Eriksen, Director of Food & Beverage
Meryl’s passion for the Inn is contagious, and as our Director of Food & Beverage, she spends a large amount of time sharing that enthusiasm with the world. Meryl is also the force behind our epicurean events: believe us when we tell you that she loves them. (We know it’s cooking class day when we hear “I’M. SO. EXCITED!” roughly every 15 minutes.)
Fortunately for us, Meryl says this is her dream job, combining with her other love—food and beverage. (Our beverage list is fantastic, and as the Inns’ wine curator, it’s all down to Meryl.) Meryl earned her Associates degree in Culinary Arts from the C.I.A. and her B.S. in Hotel Administration from Cornell University. After a time in L.A. working as the restaurant general manager for the Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach, Meryl returned home to her native Finger Lakes region, and to the Inns, where she’d interned years before.
Patrick Higgins, Executive Chef
Patrick was executive chef of Tampa, Florida’s massive Catering by the Family operation when his wife, a native of the Finger Lakes region, secretly launched a job search on his behalf. When our Events Coordinator received his resume, she took it straight to then-Executive Chef Greg Rhoad and urged him to pursue Patrick. It took a few phone calls and an hour-long tour, and by the end of the day Patrick was hired. The rest, as they say, is history.
After three years working closely with Chef Rhoad, Patrick assumed the role of Executive Chef of the Aurora Inn in November of 2011. Maintaining the Dining Room’s longstanding commitment to fresh local produce and the farm-to-table movement, Patrick works closely with local farmers. A visual artist as well as a chef, creates stunning sculptures in ice, fruit, and vegetables.
In May of 2016, the revered James Beard House in New York city honored Patrick and his accomplishments with an invitation to prepare dinner at the house with his team. A fundraiser for the James Beard Foundation, the sold-out dinner highlighted both Patrick’s culinary achievements and his commitment to highlighting the bounty of the Finger Lakes with a thoughtful, considered approach.
Heather Davidson, Director of Events
After earning her undergraduate degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Heather realized that the hospitality industry was her real passion. She returned to school to pursue a Masters of Management in Hospitality from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, and joined our team the day after her graduation.
She has called the Finger Lakes area home her entire life, and couldn’t be more proud to do so. Living here as long as she has allows her to develop great relationships with many of the vendors in our area. It also allows her to accurately judge if there’s enough time to fit a wedding ceremony in before a late afternoon thunderstorm crosses the lake. “People always comment on how much fun my job must be,” she says. “I get to be a part of the most memorable days of people’s lives, help to make them exceptional, and do so with a great team in one of the most spectacular locations in the world. So, yes! My job is pretty fun!”
Heather was clearly destined to direct weddings at the Inns of Aurora, as her parents met in the space that is our Lakeside Room in the early 1970s. The rest, as they say, is history.
Trina Myers, Pastry Chef
A native of the Finger Lakes region, Trina grew up in a family that loved to bake. “My family would gather around the kitchen table and chat and cook together for hours,” she remembers. Now she shares the joy of baking with a revolving team of CIA externs, the next generation of pastry professionals, who supplement her year-round staff of three.
Trina earned her Baking and Pastry degree from the Culinary Institute of America. For nearly ten years, she worked at Pascale’s Bake House, a Syracuse institution, before joining our team in April 2005. Each morning she begins baking breads and pastries long before dawn. Trina also creates all our wedding cakes. She likes nothing better than trying new pastry techniques and developing new recipes and, like the rest of our team, she crafts her specialties to the best of what’s local and in season.
“I like to make people happy with my desserts,” Trina says. “The highest honor to me is to hear, “that’s the best I’ve ever eaten.”
Sara Brown, Sales & Events Manager
Sara has a knack for planning and a head for details: “I love a good gathering!”
It seems as though her whole life has been about gatherings—Sara comes from a large family that places a high value on spending time in each other’s company. She also loves food. Not one to back away from a challenge, she embarked on a double major at Paul Smith’s College in Hotel, Resort and Tourism Management and Culinary Arts. After her time at Paul Smith’s, her passion for the outdoors led her to the wilds of Wyoming and the mountains of Vermont both in Event Planning roles. Inevitably, though, the family gatherings she was used to organizing beckoned her home to the Finger Lakes.
Sara’s thrilled, now, to have found a career in hospitality at a collection of historic inns that sits right on the edge of Cayuga Lake in the charming village of Aurora, New York. During her time here, she’s had the pleasure of hosting guests in these beautifully restored properties as an innkeeper, helping couple’s plan for their unforgettable wedding weekends and hosting high yield retreats for our corporate guests.
“I believe that celebrations and gatherings — whether that be a 50th anniversary party or an executive retreat — become more meaningful when its environment is supportive of the vision. In Aurora, amidst the beauty of these impeccably designed structures bathed in sunsets, one must only look to the shoreline and admire the diamond-like sparkle of the lake to know that this is that special place.”