Years ago the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY, was a closed unconnected property, no telephones in public areas, no TV, no connections to the outside world were allowed while the races took place.
The times they are a changing albeit it slowly, at all three New York race tracks, Belmont, Aqueduct and our favorite, Saratoga, in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY.
On December 19, 1997, Kathleen and Noel Smith purchased a dilapidated old rooming house on Broadway. It took great vision (and a very helpful local bank) to renovate, restore and reopen this 1870 building as Saratoga Arms a sixteen-room hotel in 1998. As we reflect upon the past 14 years, we are thankful for the changes that our Saratoga Springs Hotel has brought into our lives.
- In 1999, The Preservation Foundation recognized the restoration effort as a positive contribution to the preservation of the historic downtown district.
- In 2002, Amy Smith, the eldest Smith daughter, joined the family business as General Manager.
- In 2005, a new addition that doubled the size of Saratoga Arms to 31 rooms was opened with an executive meeting room and workout facilities, just in time to welcome Skidmore graduation parents and families.
- In 2009, Sheila Smith Sperling, the middle of the three Smith daughters, joined the family business as Group Sales Manager.
- Interspersed over the years, 6 grandchildren have expanded the family, possibly assuring that the family business will continue for a third generation.
- Over 60,000 guests have walked through our doors, some famous, some infamous and many not so famous guests including politicians, celebrities and horse breeders. Those who return year after year are more than just guests, they have become good friends.
- We have seen the changing times from CD players to iPod alarm clocks, old tube television to flat screens, corded high speed internet access to wireless throughout, and a user-friendly interactive website with all the bells and whistles of the digital age.
White paint on woodwork around windows in Room 201 is peeling in large patches. Why, the wall feels a little damp. The best roofer in America (Sam Design) looks it over. We will need a carpentry crew, metal bender, and of course, his team. And he knows a place in Granville, up on the Vermont border, that will be able to duplicate the purple gray fish scale slates that we will need to replace across the front of the building. All the workmen used Room 201 as a staging area. When the outside is fixed, and all the contractors have gone home, we look at the room. Peeling paint on the woodwork, dated colors, a quilt that no longer fits the new thicker mattress, a stain on the rug. It’s time for a complete redo.
Stay tuned for the next installment of “A Room Redo”…
Opening Day and the excitement throughout the city of Saratoga Springs is palpable. Up and down the crowded sidewalks visitors mingle with townsfolk, darting in and out of shops and restaurants, chatting on the benches, admiring the artistic horse sculptures, and the lush hanging baskets. Flags are waving proclaiming the arrival of the 141st meet at Saratoga Race Course. The Daily Racing Form is the preferred reading choice. The town is hopping and we are ready.
The Smith family and the staff of Saratoga Arms are welcoming back old friends who return year after year to their favorite Saratoga Springs Hotel. We are confident that first time guests will fast become part of the Saratoga Arms growing circle of regulars.
The Saratoga Arms dining room this morning was abuzz with racing talk and old friends catching up on the events of last year that passed so quickly. Noel continuus to delight diners with his usual scrumptious breakfasts and Kathleen shares Saratoga news and offers up tips for an enjoyable stay.
Come join us…the Racing Meet only lasts until Labor Day. The talk in the racing community is that the quality of horses and the racing will be the best ever. Don’t miss the fun.
The calendar affirms what our minds and hearts have been longing for… Spring has arrived in Saratoga Springs! The waist high snow banks are melting, giving way to brown grass and winter debris. It’s not yet green, but it is a welcome sight to see landscaping crews raking and cleaning up. Soon the crocus, daffodils and tulips will line the sidewalks and the trees will begin to shade the boulevard.
Saratoga Arms is getting a little spring spruce-up. A few rooms in “the old” section are getting a make-over…new room arrangements, a few coats of paint and beautiful new décor. The halls in the “new section” will be lined with historic photos of old Saratoga from the Bolster Collection of the Historical Society.
Kathleen is enjoying her waning days in Florida, returning home in mid-April. Noel is still in charge of the kitchen churning out those mouthwatering omelets for the hearty wintertime guests.
Amy and Kathleen will be attending the Innkeeping Conference presented by PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) in Atlanta at the end of the month. It is a time of socialization, exchange of ideas and learning. They always return with some fresh thoughts and renewed enthusiasm.
With the worst of this very long winter behind us and the arrival of the vernal equinox, we welcome the busy sidewalks filled with visitors to Saratoga Springs.
Will you be one of them?
| Book a two night stay Friday, October 31 and Saturday November 1, 2008 and receive one free massage or facialA bewitching invitation just for you…
No goblins, no ghosts, nary a witch will be seen,
Leave behind the candy, the ghouls and the broom,
Take a ghost walk, or visit the museum of horses,
Shop fine boutiques and farmer’s harvest displays,
Stay two nights…and we’ve an offer you can’t beat,
Call or email without ghostly delay…
* must be two night stay, offer valid only for October 31 and November 1. Please reference TREAT when booking online or calling for a reservation
There has been many doings about the date 8/8/08. Weddings were all the rage for that Friday. During one of our spring brainstorming sessions about how to market Saratoga Arms in the 8/8/08 hysteria, our Director of Sales and Marketing came up with a brilliant idea…
Saratoga Springs is in the middle of our thoroughbred racing season. The town is jammed and our rooms are filled. Our director thought it would be fabulous to buy a racing ticket for each room on 8/8/08, betting the eighth horse in the eighth race. Great idea! Wouldn’t you know, after the second race that Friday a torrential thunderstorm with golf ball sized hail rained down on Saratoga and the racetrack. The rest of that day’s racing was cancelled.
We all wondered if we would have a dining room full of winners on 8/9/08. We’ll never know.
Any ideas for 9/9/09?
As I said in my previous blog, people leave lots of their life behind in their hotel rooms. Years ago, the housekeepers turned in an engagement ring found in the corner on the carpet. It held an unusually small diamond, and the office staff theorized that its size was no doubt a surprise to the bride to be. It was probably tossed across the room and each must have thought the other retrieved it. No one has ever telephoned for its return, and you know my rule.
There has been a book left behind many times this fall. Eat, Pray, Love. All of these copies have been left with bookmarks about one hundred pages into it. No one has ever telephoned for its return either. Apologies to Oprah, but I think many ladies are getting stuck.
Based on these “in house” reviews, I have chosen not to attempt to read it.
“Mom, you’re going to write a blog.” my thirty something daughter said to me. She had just spent eight months convincing her seventy year old father and sixty year old mother that we were going to spend a small fortune to redesign our hotel’s website and give a young woman in Hawaii the job of promoting it. Hard for me to swallow. We were getting so much of our reservations from our old website, and besides, everyone knows that no one actually works in Hawaii. The new Saratoga Arms’ website went live a month ago. Within ten days we had pulled in enough online reservations and a conference to pay for it. It must be very difficult to be a smart, sharp, tech savvy daughter of the founders of Saratoga’s very best lodging property and have to combat twentieth century parents with whom you work.
The next hurdle is to educate her old mother to blog protocol. Like Betty Davis said, fasten your seatbelts. It could be a bumpy ride.