Renovation and Revival
Preserving the Spirit of a Historic Hotel
In the heart of Saranac Lake, standing six stories tall, the Hotel Saranac holds nearly 100 years of rich history just beyond its doors. Originally built in 1927 during the height of prohibition, Hotel Saranac became an instant success, providing leisure and luxury for people escaping bustling city life. In the hotel’s early years, an abundance of nearby outdoor activities enticed guests to spend their entire summer there. “The word ‘vacation,’ we say, is born in the Adirondacks,” general manager Jacob Kipping said. Kipping has been in the hospitality industry for three decades and has been Hotel Saranac’s general manager since the landmark’s dramatic makeover was revealed in 2018.
The Roedel Companies purchased the hotel in 2013 and began a multiyear renovation in 2016, costing over $30 million.
Today, the hotel hosts elaborate weddings, business meetings and families looking for a luxurious getaway. The hotel stands as a time capsule for its 20th century charm with added 21st century amenities: a spa, a 24/7 fitness center, a hair salon and barber shop, as well as a nail salon, gift shop, restaurant and bar.
The Campfire Adirondack Grill combines sophistication and comfort making it a must for guests and locals. The restaurant offers an assortment of seasonal dishes, signature cocktails and craft beer.
During the renovations that followed a two year closure, workers preserved the hotel’s historic notes, including the original 1920s wood flooring in the ballroom and lobby. The original metal chandeliers remain in the ballroom. The original mail chute still runs throughout all six floors for guests to drop off their personal mail. Authentic phone booths still stand in the hotel as well. The 88-room establishment used to serve as more than just a hotel: Paul Smith’s College hospitality students ran Hotel Saranac from 1961 until 2013, gaining hands-on experience in a successful hotel.
Hotel Saranac was inducted into the Hilton’s Curio collection in 2017, a portfolio of unique upscale hotel around the world handpicked by Hilton. The Curio brand gives hotels the freedom to stay authentic to themselves
while still upholding Hilton standards.
In the 1940s, the hotel made additions to the roof of the building: A lightbulb-lit sign reading “Hotel Saranac.” As time went on, half the bulbs had burned out to leave the words “Hot Sara ‘’ to illuminate the village.
In 2013, when the Roedel family purchased the hotel, the town was insistent on keeping Hot Sara.
“Now we have a switch for the sign to say Hot Sara. We have a signature cocktail, sweatshirts, cups … we really embraced the Hot Sara joke,” said Myra Rondeau, the hotel’s catering manager. Guest satisfaction is Hotel Saranac’s main goal. In order to make guests feel comfortable during their stay, hotel employees take several measures to ensure every guest feels at home. A few days before arrival, guests are informed about hotel activities and things to do in Saranac Lake during their stay. Management does a mid-stay check-in to ensure that guests have everything they need. The hotel also uses a texting platform to give guests a direct line of communication with employees.
“Everyone that works here really gets to know the guests as they come through,” Rondeau said.
After nearly a century of management changes, building developments and ‘Hot Sara” jokes, one thing remains constant: Hotel Saranac combines luxury, comfort and history with an Adirondack flair.
“It’s different here,” Rondeau said. “There’s not a lot of places that have
our historic style.”
— Story by Kennedy Tavares