Hotel Saranac introduces managers at reception

Fred Roedel, co-owner of Roedel Companies that owns the Hotel Saranac, chats with Amy Catania, executive director of Historic Saranac Lake, Thursday evening at the Mount Pisgah ski lodge at a reception to introduce the hotel’s management team. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

SARANAC LAKE — With drywall being hung on its first floor, the Hotel Saranac isn’t renovated enough yet to host a reception. Therefore, dozens of people packed the lodge at Mount Pisgah Ski Center Thursday evening to meet and greet the hotel’s new management team.

Nineteen members of that team assembled at the front of the room for a brief round of introductions and speeches at one point during the event. Behind them was a row of images showing what the hotel is expected to look like when complete.

Hotel officials have said it will reopen sometime this summer, but to be safe, they weren’t accepting reservations until November. No more specific opening date was given at Thursday’s reception.

The reception drew guests from local businesses, institutions, nonprofit organizations and government. Staff of the North Country Chamber of Commerce traveled from Plattsburgh, and state Assemblyman Billy Jones came from Chateaugay. Pins were given out showing the hotel’s iconic rooftop sign with only the letters spelling “HOT SARA” lit up. The host was Roedel Companies, based in New Hampshire, which bought the hotel in 2013 from the Arora family.

The Roedel family, which owns Roedel Companies, has a history in Saranac Lake going back long before the Hotel Saranac was built in 1927, and patriarch Fred Roedel talked about that a bit at the reception. First, though, with his sons Fred III and David behind him, he answered the rhetorical question, “Why did we buy the hotel?”

The Hotel Saranac’s two-level parking garage is being finished, as seen Tuesday on Academy Street in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

First off, he said, it was structurally sound, noting that it had been designed to be fireproof at a time many Saranac Lake hotels burned down.

Second, he said, “It’s in a great town” with “so many things going for it,” such as two colleges, a regional hospital and an airport. He said Fred III “really wants to live here” and noted how the Hotel Saranac has been a hub of much of the community’s social activity.

He acknowledged obstacles that delayed the reopening, such as building a parking garage, but said speed is not the most important part of the renovation.

“It becomes the people of the town’s property, and we have to make sure we do it right,” he said.

Roedel said one of his ancestors came to Saranac Lake as an electrician in the 1800s and helped install electric lights at Blood’s Hotel, later the Riverside Inn. Fred also recalled, as a boy, visiting his grandparents at their home on Riverside Drive. When the lights are turned on at the new Hotel Saranac, he said, “I have a feeling I’m going to hear my grandfather say, ‘Good job.'”

David Roedel emphasized that the hotel’s link with Hilton’s Curio Collection is purely to extend its booking reach. The Hotel Saranac is completely independent but “plugged into a great reservation system, the best in the world.”

Others who said a few words were renovation Project Manager Tad Schrantz, RGH Hospitality Operating Officer-President Glenn Hardman and Hotel Saranac General Manager Michael Salyers. Other managers present are involved with interior decorating, construction, food and beverage services, marketing and sales. Some, like Salyers and Executive Chef David Pittman, living in this area before the hotel hired them. Others moved here for the job.