There was a point in Saratoga’s history when the city may have been known more for its hotels than its horses. And with a recent boom in downtown development the city seems ready to market itself beyond just the “summer place to be.” YNN’s Matt Hunter has the story.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Thirty years to the month after first building a grocery store on the same site, DCG Development executives broke ground on a new luxury hotel in Saratoga's Congress Plaza Thursday.
"We had a good run with the buildings that were here, but it was obvious it was time for a change," DCG Vice President Donald MacElroy said.
Set to open next year as an Embassy Suites, the hotel will feature 149 two-room suites, along with a pool, restaurant and meeting space.
It's the latest evidence of a hospitality boom in the Spa City, a place that once boasted more hotel rooms per capita than anywhere else in the world.
"Just a stone's throw from here, in fact, was the Grand Union Hotel,” Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson said. "At the time, it was built it was the largest hotel in the world."
"We've just had an incredible run over the last few years and this validates that," said Todd Garofano, president of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau.
In recent years, nearly a dozen hotels have opened, are under construction or are in the planning stages. Just up the street from Congress Plaza, executives at the Holiday Inn on Broadway have begun a $3 million renovation project which includes façade work and the remodeling of every room.
"We're in a historic district and we want to be part of all the great things that are happening in terms of rebuilding, replacements and renewal," said Cindy Hollowood, the hotel’s general manager.
Some believe the growth is proof Saratoga is no longer a seasonal town relying solely on horse racing.
"We stopped being just the 'August Place To Be' many, many years ago,” Johnson said. “We're a year-round destination now."
Others tread more cautiously, fearing it may be too much, too fast.
"I'm concerned about it,” Hollowood said. “Our market occupancy has not grown, particularly not in the last five years, as a matter of fact, it's going in the opposite direction."
Even with the growth, it's all but certain Saratoga will not reclaim its title as Hotel Capital of the World. Only time will tell if there proves to be enough business to go around.
"There always is [concern] but we leave that to the developers to look at the numbers, to really do their homework and I think they have," Garofano said.
"We do think we're going to offer something a little different that will capture a segment of the market I think is under-served here," MacElroy said.