Pete Davidson and Colin Jost’s Staten Island Ferry Could Become a Roving Hotel in Destinations from New York to Miami — With 24 Rooms (2024)

When news first broke that Saturday Night Live comedians Pete Davidson and Colin Jost bought a retired 277-foot long Staten Island ferry boat in January 2022, reactions began with curious intrigue but quickly nosedived to comedy punchlines, even providing constant fodder on the sketch comedy show itself.

But it turns out all those laughs may have covered up the fact that their investment in a massive $280,000 non-working vessel is actually well on its way to become one of the most unconventional entertainment venues out there, complete with 24 hotel rooms, Curbed reported.

“The goal is to keep the character and aesthetic from the original ferry and incorporate it with the comforts that are needed,” architect and developer Ron Castellano who runs Studio Castellano, and is also one of initial investors, told Travel + Leisure in a call this week. “It’s not trying to use the most expensive materials or the most intricate craftsmanship, but it’s certainly something that will be unique.”

While initial reports said the floating landmark would focus purely on entertainment, as the schematic design phase began, the fifth floor veered into overnight accommodations. “We already have plenty of bars and restaurants in the venue, and when we were looking at that space with the balconies, it just lent itself to hotel rooms,” he said.

Under the current designs, the two pilot houses on each end will transform into two-story suites, which are “more deluxe,” Castellano explained. The remaining rooms would be rather uniform, each getting the coveted New York City amenity of a sundeck. “That ferry for that class had an outdoor seating area on both sides, so that will get divided up with each of the rooms,” he said, noting that everything is still “preliminary.”

Another innovative aspect of the Staten Island Ferry hotel is that the location may not be static.“It was built in Texas and has just been tugged wherever it needs to go,” Castellano said. “I think it would be interesting for the venue to travel to different cities at different times.”

With the vast amount of outdoor roof space, the thought is that the renewed ferry could stay open year-round in warmer venues like Miami in the winter and then be tugged over to New York in the summer, perhaps even adding other eastern seaboard stops.

“Right now, that’s on the table,” he explained. “It just seems like a great idea.” The challenge will be to find docking locations that can fit the massive length of the structure. “It’s not easy to find a place for it, but we’re looking at all the options.”

With both Davidson, who left the late night comedy show in 2022, and Jost, who is now the longest-running “Weekend Update” cohost, being native Staten Islanders, there’s an inherent dedication to preserving the legacy of the orange ferry. In fact, Jost even used the southern borough’s icon as part of his public wedding announcement to Scarlett Johannson via Meals on Wheels America’s Instagram post.

Pete Davidson and Colin Jost’s Staten Island Ferry Could Become a Roving Hotel in Destinations from New York to Miami —With 24 Rooms (2)

“Everyone takes the ferry over and then they just turn around and come back, and freeload the ferry because it's free,” Jost told T+L in a previous interview in February.

The restoration project is set to take about two and a half to three years, so the current designs could still evolve. But for now, the hotel will be confined to one floor, though as things get closer to reality there’s a chance that “anything goes," Castellano said.

Currently, they’re working on figuring out functionality and where to put various kitchen spaces since with the vast amount of space, there could be some long distances for servers to travel between the prep and serving areas. The mechanical and HVAC systems also add another layer to the considerations.

Castellano, who became involved with the project through Paul Italia, who owns the Manhattan comedy club The Stand, said that the project has been a collaborative effort between all of the investors, including Davidson and Jost. “Every step of the way we share the designs and get feedback on everything,” he said. “Everybody is pretty much on the same page. There’s a uniform vision at this point.“

After all, this is just one of my many projects for all involved. Castellano, best known for his work on the Lower East Side’s Nine Orchard, as well as the Upper West Side’s Hotel Belleclaire and Midtown’s Kimpton Hotel Eventi, is also working on a 38-acre Herman Kiefer Campus in Detroit. Davidson is now touring the country on his Prehab Tour, while Jost is wrapping up SNL’s 49th season and preparing to host White House Correspondent’s Dinner on April 27.

“They are busy doing their thing and I'm doing what I do at this stage of the project,” he said. “Then I finish it and hand it off. But it's been a great experience.”

Pete Davidson and Colin Jost’s Staten Island Ferry Could Become a Roving Hotel in Destinations from New York to Miami — With 24 Rooms (2024)
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