Hotel Saranac stops taking guests

SARANAC LAKE – With the sale of the property pending, the Hotel Saranac is no longer taking reservations.

“Starting yesterday, I stopped taking guests,” Sewa Arora, whose family owns the iconic Main Street hotel, told the Enterprise Thursday.

The Arora family has signed an agreement to sell the hotel to New Hampshire-based Roedel Companies. The deal hasn’t closed yet, but Sewa Arora said he expects it to soon.

“Very soon,” he said. “We don’t have an exact date.”

Roedel Companies plans to buy the hotel and renovate its guest rooms, banquet and meeting facilities, and Main Street retail space. The company is seeking $5 million from the state toward what it has said is an overall $12.7 million project, which also involves construction of a 250-car parking garage.

As part of his agreement with the Roedel Companies, Arora said all the furnishings from the hotel’s rooms – from bed linens to television sets – will be donated to charity.

Some of the blankets, bedspreads, sheets, pillows and pillow cases will be donated to the Saranac Lake Ecumenical Council. Arora said the bulk of the furnishings will go to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany.

“They have the storage facility to take the contents of all 86 rooms,” Arora said. “Mattresses, the writing desks, the chairs, the TVs, the entertainment centers, the towels, the lighting fixtures, air conditioner and heating units – everything.

“It’s in the contract that we signed with the Roedels that, when they take over, they promised me they will call this charity so they will come with four or five truckloads and pick it up. You’re talking about 100 air conditioner and heating units. It’s a major operation.”

Asked why he donated the furnishings instead of selling them, Arora said, “We thought we could do something nice for a charity, whether it’s a local charity or an out-of-town charity. We thought it would be a nice gesture.”

Rich Loeber of the Ecumenical Council said in an email that the furnishings donated to his group will be used for a homeless shelter the council is trying to establish in Saranac Lake.

“We are making arrangements now to get a crew together to remove them from the (hotel’s) basement, transport them out to the Young Life Camp on Upper Saranac where they will be washed and folded and the bring them back to town for temporary storage in the attic of the Baldwin House by St Luke’s (Episcopal Church),” Loeber wrote.

Meanwhile, people who’ve been guests at the hotel over the years say they’re looking forward to a revitalized Hotel Saranac. Bill Orzell of Syracuse told the Enterprise he was staying at the hotel on business this week but had to check out Wednesday morning, earlier than he had planned, because he was told it was closing. He said he’s been a guest of the hotel many times before and is looking forward to the new ownership.

“The building is a true architectural gem, and a pleasure to stay at for a seasoned traveler, who appreciates domiciling at the center of a community,” Orzell wrote in an email. “As I wandered through the second floor ballroom this week, I could almost sense the excitement that occurred there in the past. I feel deeply this worthy edifice can rekindle the fire of your community’s hearth. I believe the Hotel Saranac can be the centerpiece of the Village and a major component of Saranac Lake’s economic engine in the near and distant future.”

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or