|By Chris Churchill, Albany Times Union,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 16, 2008 - BOLTON LANDING -- Hidden beneath the spectacular beauty of The Sagamore is a stark reality: The posh Lake George resort has struggled with profitability and heavy debt.
Now, new owners will try to turn The Sagamore around: The resort's parent company this week said it had reached "a transaction agreement" with Ocean Properties Ltd., which owns and manages hundreds of resort and hotel properties in the United States and Canada.
Ocean Properties is no stranger to the Capital Region: An affiliate, Ocean Hospitalities Inc., manages seven properties here, including the Courtyard by Marriott in Lake George, the Residence Inn in Saratoga Springs and the Hilton Garden Inn at Albany Medical Center.
The company is a frequent partner of BBL Development Group in Albany, which built many of the hotel properties that Ocean Hospitalities manages. And it has collaborated with BBL on proposals, so far unrealized, for both the Harriman State Office Campus and the planned Albany convention center.
Phone calls and e-mail to Ocean Properties, which is headquartered in Florida and New Hampshire, were not returned on Friday.
Green Island Associates, owner of The Sagamore, said in a statement that it and Ocean Properties are prohibited by contractual agreement from releasing information about the sale. The statement also said Ocean Properties officials would visit The Sagamore "over the next couple of weeks ... to complete their due diligence."
If completed, the sale will end two decades of ownership by Green Island, which is majority controlled by Kennington Ltd., a somewhat odd California company that began as a clothing manufacturer but expanded into mortgage banking and real estate.
Following an extensive and costly renovation by Kennington, The Sagamore reopened in 1985 -- 102 years after it first debuted and five years after it had been shuttered by prior owners.
The property includes a 350-room hotel, condominiums, a golf course and a conference center.
The $75 million renovation "changed the lake entirely," said Lonnie Lawrence, a Lake George-area native and longtime real estate agent in Bolton Landing. "It brought people from all over the world."
Kennington's Web site says The Sagamore generates $30 million in annual revenue. But the company also has said it is struggling with the debt it took on to complete the renovation.
"We do not clear a profit at this hotel," David Boyd, The Sagamore's managing partner, said at the resort's annual meeting in May, according to The Post-Star newspaper in Glens Falls.
Rumors that Kennington planned to sell the resort -- along with speculation the sale price could approach $100 million -- have circulated for months in Bolton Landing. That was a potentially worrisome development.
Dave Forshay, president of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce, said The Sagamore is Bolton Landing's only four-season hotel, and its customers are vitally important to other businesses in town.
Forshay and others in town said they were pleased the resort would be sold to an experienced and deep-pocketed owner.
"I'm thrilled," said Lawrence, the real estate agent. "The Sagamore needs some upgrading, and it needs some new blood." Chris Churchill can be reached at 454-5442 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ocean Properties Ltd.
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