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Saranac Waterfront Lodge could finish this year

Despite heavy snowfall, construction continues on the Saranac Waterfront Lodge Thursday morning. (Enterprise photo — Catherine Moore)

SARANAC LAKE — After more than six-and-a-half years of planning and development under multiple owners and names, the Saranac Waterfront Lodge could be a finished product within the year.

The hotel — formerly the Saranac Lake Waterfront Resort, and the Lake Flower Resort & Spa before that — will have 93 queen- and king-sized rooms, a 120-seat lakeside pub with dedicated restaurant docking, a 24-seat upscale restaurant, a 200-person ballroom and event space overlooking the lake, on-site boat rentals and tours, a fitness center, 100 parking spaces, a pool, hot tubs, fire pits, bike racks and electric car charging stations.

It is located on Lake Flower Avenue overlooking Pontiac Bay. It’s next to Fogarty’s Lake Flower Marina and Mountain Mist Ice Cream.

Andrew Milne is the chief operating officer for Skyward Hospitality, the hotel management company that will run the Saranac Waterfront Lodge. In an interview Tuesday, he said there isn’t an exact date of when construction will finish, but the hope is either this summer or fall.

Currently, the structure of the hotel — four stories, the roof and windows — is up. Some of the infrastructure, such as heating and air conditioning, is getting started, Milne said. Siding and balconies are going up now.

Saranac Riverfront Lodge is seen on Tuesday

Look and size

Aesthetically, Milne said the Lodge is supposed to have a traditional Adirondack feel mixed with a modern look.

“We tried to tie as much as we could with the interior design and architectural build to Saranac Lake,” he said. “We had architects come in and look at the buildings across the lake with the cure cottages, and they kind of got their inspiration from there.”

Though it can seem like a big hotel for Saranac Lake, Milne said the lodge will be smaller than average nationwide.

“Usually they’re around 150 rooms,” he said. “I do agree, it’s a big hotel for around here, but the typical model in most places in the United States (is bigger).”

“Affordable luxury”

Milne said the goal for the overall feel of the lodge is to be approachable but also offer full-service amenities similar to high-end hotels. He didn’t have exact prices for rooms.

“It’s a pretty big range, depending on the season,” he said. “We’re trying to do what I call, for a lack of a better word, ‘affordable luxury.'”

Pub

The lodge’s pub will be a separate structure from the main hotel building.

“People can either come up on their boats or walk there, or in their cars,” Milne said. “It’s really for the public. It’s a little bit separated from the hotel, so it’s going to try and operate on its own kind of brand. Obviously, it’s right by the hotel and will be associated there, but the idea is that it would create its own individual concept really catering to the community.”

He said he and other hotel officials are still working out the pub’s name.

Saranac Lake hotels

Over its lifetime, Saranac Lake and the surrounding area has been home to plenty of grand hotels. There was the Hotel Algonquin on Lower Saranac Lake, Paul Smith’s Hotel on Lower St. Regis Lake and the Berkeley House (later Berkeley Hotel) on the corner of Main Street and Broadway. However, the heyday for many of these businesses was around the turn of the 20th Century.

When the new lodge opens, it will be the second of the larger hotels in the village, along with the 90-plus year-old Hotel Saranac, which reopened in 2018.

Milne said he doesn’t see the Hotel Saranac as competition, but rather an ally.

“I think this will help Saranac Lake become another destination in the Adirondacks,” he said. “We can also collaborate a lot with the Hotel Saranac to help events come to the Saranac Lake area and bring more business to the downtown. There are a lot of events that Lake Placid just doesn’t have the capacity to hold.”

Green construction

Milne said he thinks the lodge will be the first LEED-certified hotel in the Adirondack Park. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

“It’s the only one I’m aware of. I haven’t seen any others,” he said.

The Enterprise was not able to find any other LEED-certified hotel in the Adirondacks. James McKenna, CEO of the Regional Office for Sustainable Tourism, said he did not know of one, either. He noted that the Conference Center in Lake Placid is LEED certified, but it is not a hotel.

Getting LEED certified can include things like using green building materials and energy-efficient air conditioners, recycling, maximizing grass and plant space, even offering bike racks.

“A lot of stuff you actually don’t see,” he said. “Everything from the glue that’s on carpets to the lighting has to meet a certain rating.”

Jobs

Milne said the hotel expects to hire about 75 employees, and recruitment efforts will start three months before the opening. He said he wasn’t sure how many construction jobs the project has created because its general contractor, BBL Construction of Albany, has hired subcontractors for some parts of the build. He said there were 60 workers at the site Tuesday morning.

Milne said Skyward Hospitality has already hired Anura Dewapura as the lodge’s general manager. Dewapura’s career has included executive leadership positions with luxury hotels in the U.S., Southeast Asia, Europe and the Caribbean, according to a 2014 hotelexecutive.com article.

“He lived in Sweden, so he’s familiar with the cold weather,” Milne said. “He has a lot of experience opening boutique hotels, non-branded, which is kind of a different animal to opening a branded hotel.”

Milne said the lodge is not associated with any larger brand currently.

Owners

It’s still unclear exactly who owns the Saranac Waterfront Lodge.

When asked about the owners, Milne said there is a large pool of more than 20 investors. Not all are local, but they are familiar with the area, he said.

Leland “Lee” Pillsbury of Maryland and Mark Pacala of Washington, D.C., are two of the named partners in Saranac Lake Resort Owner LLC, the company that owns the lodge. The current investment group bought the project in 2015 from Chris LaBarge of Malone, who first announced it in July 2013.

Skyward Hospitality, based in Lake Placid, doesn’t just do hotel management. According to its website, it also offers services to developers in planning and financing their projects, as well as to property owners in maximizing short-term rental revenue.

Milne said Skyward Hospitality isn’t managing any other hotels in the Adirondacks at this point.