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North Country tourism study to look at how to spend $13 million

By Charles McChesney


Hotel Saranac
A photo of the Hotel Saranac taken from a drone. (Photo credit: Hotel Saranac)

SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the reopening of the Hotel Saranac to announce a feasibility study for spending the $13 million he promised to support “strategic lodging opportunities” in the North Country.

Ernst & Young will carry out the North Country Lodging Development Feasibility Study, according to a release from the governor’s office. “The feasibility study will better inform the state of opportunities available to meet the demands of travelers, and it will allow potential projects to be identified soon after the study is complete,” the release stated.

In his remarks on Saturday, Cuomo discussed the historic importance of the Hotel Saranac. Built as a modern city hotel in 1927, the Hotel Saranac has twice hosted people attending the Winter Olympics when they were held in nearby Lake Placid in 1932 and 1980.

In recent decades, the aging hotel went through ownership changes and had lost some of its grandeur. In 2013, the Roedel Companies purchased the hotel. “Grueling renovations follow,” the hotel’s website recounts, “with the purpose to restore Hotel Saranac to its rightful splendor and to the Gilded Age magnificence that its creators had intended.” That work included a lighted rooftop sign like the hotel sported 90 year ago.

The 84-room hotel is now part of Hilton Hotel’s Curio Collection. Other hotels in the collection include Maison Astor in Paris, Boulders Resort and Spa in Arizona and 58 other hotels around the world. The Hotel Saranac’s website lists current rates below $200 a night and summer rates above that amount.

During his remarks, Cuomo talked of how he and brother, Chris, now a CNN news anchor, would visit the Adirondacks to escape the tension of their Albany home when their father, Mario, was governor. “You know, you’re dealing with the Legislature,” he said to laughter from the crowd at the hotel.

“We would just go and explore and fish and camp and spend the weekend with no particular agenda. And I hope you never take for granted what you have here,” he said.

Cuomo also talked about the challenge the region faced when dealing with state government. “The North Country did not get the kind of help and attention it needed from the state government in Albany.” He recounted being told that Northern New York received more attention from Canada than it did from its own state government.

 “They missed all across Upstate,” he said of state leaders.

Cuomo said the state has been investing in the North Country region. He said that New York will be the first state to have 100 percent broad-band Internet access and noted that tourism investment has introduced people to attractions they did not know existed.

Dressed in an open-collar shirt and sweater, Cuomo concluded his remarks saying he was going snowmobiling.

Contact McChesney at

Photo credit: Hotel Saranac

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