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Paul Smith's College Selling the 88-room Hotel Saranac, Which
 it Has Owned and Trained Students in Since 1961
By Benjamin Ray, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Oct. 14, 2006 - SARANAC LAKE -- Paul Smith's College will sell the hotel it has owned and trained students in since 1961.

The college has reached an agreement to sell the 88-room Hotel Saranac to Hauppauge-area hotelier Sewa R. Arora and his two daughters, Sabena and Sarena. Paul Smith's culinary and hospitality management students will begin training in January at the Crowne Plaza Resort & Golf Club in Lake Placid.

Lack of revenue and amenities led to the sale, said college spokesman Kenneth P. Aaron. Crowne Plaza is larger than the Hotel and offers a wider range of hotel facilities such as golf courses, fine restaurants and a concierge, which provides more avenues for student training.

But the hotel also has been losing money for years, as the cost of staffing the hotel with faculty year-round has exceeded guest revenue. Although the hotel has never officially been on the market, the college has been seeking interested buyers for several years.

"It has not been a money-making operation for us," Mr. Aaron said. "We staff it like an education institution so no matter what time of year it is, we need faculty and staff on hand to work with students."

Crowne Plaza overlooks Mirror Lake and offers four restaurants, three golf courses, 244 rooms and 30,000 square feet of meeting space. Before the Hotel was built, Paul Smith's students trained in the Crowne Plaza back when it was the Lake Placid Club.

"I see this as an opportunity for us to give the students the level of experiences necessary for today's industry," said Nancy Loman Scanlon, dean of the college's hotel, resort and culinary management division. "It also allows us to respond to the variety of interests our students have in the hospitality industry. We can offer our students a much more dynamic and relevant experience."

Mr. Arora and his daughters will run the Hotel Saranac beginning early next year. He did not return a phone call seeking comment but has said he wants to keep working with the college while restoring the hotel to a profit-making business.

Mr. Arora has been general manager of several hotels and resorts in the U.S. and internationally and also owns a restaurant chain, college officials said.

All three hold bachelor's degrees from Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration.

The hotel was built in 1927. Mr. Aaron would not say how much it will sell for.

The Hotel Saranac has been a landmark in Saranac Lake for over 75 years. The original lobby was housed on the second floor while the lobby area of today's hotel was an arcade that hosted a number of shops and a tavern on the peripheral and an opening in the middle where one could drive their horse drawn carriage through.

The concept for the Hotel began in December of 1924 when the nationally renowned architect William Scopes made his way from his home of New York City through the Adirondack Mountains, summer home of many of the current elite of Manhattan and beyond. His destination was the hamlet of Saranac Lake where Scopes had been contracted to design a hotel to be built in the center of town. Unlike the rustic camp style properties so popular during that era, Scopes intended to propose the construction of a true city hotel, equipped with such innovations as a separate bath in each of its original 92 rooms and complete fireproofing. The result of his vision celebrated its Grand Opening on July 1st, 1927 with the opening of the Hotel Saranac.

As in the architectural style of the time, the Hotel as built to showcase the exquisite Grand Hall, modeled after the Grand Salon of the Davanzati Palace in Florence Italy. Here Scopes borrowed the architectural elements of the Salon with huge beams traversing the room and French doors going out to a terrace overlooking the village and surrounding mountains, replacing Italian coats-of-arms with hand painted regional icons, still preserved in its original style. The sweeping design of the Ballroom with its yellow birch paneling and impressive pillars was borrowed from the traditional architecture of the Great Camps of the Adirondacks. Five arched windows allow the mountain sunshine to beam in, accenting the della Robia influenced sculpting of the room's ceiling. The Ballroom and Grand Hall have been the focal points of large social functions; weddings, banquets and large parties of every type, recalling the style and glamour of another era with a relaxing and informal and cozy atmosphere.

Since 1961, the Hotel Saranac has been owned and operated by Paul Smith's College, acting as a training ground for the college students in the Hotel Restaurant, Culinary Arts and Hospitality and Tourism programs. Students spend a full semester working in all areas of the hotel, providing "hands-on" training that most colleges are unable to offer. Students are a welcome addition to the professional staff, furnishing fresh ideas and enthusiasm that keep the spirit of Adirondack hospitality alive. While the students are in session, one of their most exciting contributions is the weekly Thursday Night Buffet, entirely prepared and managed by them. Each week the buffet is presented and is enjoyed by the local community and travelers alike.


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Copyright (c) 2006, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.

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