Friday, December 07, 2007

Gideon Putnam Hotel poised for Delaware North transition

Firm putting $6.5M into hotel
Company ready to take over Gideon Putnam, baths
BY LEE COLEMAN Gazette Reporter The Buffalo-based company preparing to take over operation of the Gideon Putnam Hotel will spend $6.5 million over the next five years to upgrade the hotel and related facilities, a state parks official said Thursday. Delaware North Companies, which currently runs Saratoga Gaming and Raceway in Saratoga Springs, will start operating the historic Gideon Putnam Hotel and Conference Center and Roosevelt Baths in the Saratoga Spa State Park on Dec. 31. Final contract negotiations between the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Delaware North have been completed, said Robert Kuhn, assistant regional director of the state parks’ Saratoga-Capital District Region. “The transition is moving quickly and nicely,” Kuhn said at a park commission meeting on Thursday. A transition team from Delaware North has rented offices in the Spa State Park’s administration building and is busy interviewing people, Kuhn said. Xanterra Parks & Resorts Inc. has operated the hotel and baths for the past 20 years but its bid for another 20 years was rejected by the state, which awarded Delaware North the 20-year franchise. The company has agreed to spend more than $19 million over the next 20 years, upgrading the 1935-era hotel and nearby mineral baths and spa, Kuhn said. “They will revitalize and improve the hotel,” Kuhn said. “Delaware North has so many great ideas.” The 132 guest rooms in the hotel will be renovated, along with the hotel’s restaurant and bar and kitchen, he said. Delaware North has also agreed to spend $450,000 renovating and improving the Roosevelt Bathhouse, including using all mineral water in the soothing baths rather than the current mixture of mineral water and hot tap water. For more than 20 years, the bathhouses in the Spa State Park have mixed cold mineral water with hot city tap water to reach a desired bathing temperature. Before the mid-1980s, the mineral water was heated and used undiluted in the therapeutic baths. Several years ago Xanterra completely renovated the Roosevelt Baths and added spa amenities. Kuhn said Delaware North will remodel the baths as well as add new features, including a tea and lunch service. “The contract will be in place within the next two weeks,” Kuhn said. “Both state parks and Delaware North feel the transition is on track and going well.” He said the contract is being reviewed by the state Comptroller’s Office, as required by state regulations. “There are no hitches,” he said. Heather Mabee, chairwoman of the park commission, said she was pleased that the operation of the Gideon was awarded to a company headquartered in New York state. Xanterra, which operates hotels and resorts in some national parks, is located out of state. When state parks Commissioner Carol Ash announced that Delaware North had won the bidding war to operate the Gideon Putnam, she noted the company has operated other state parks, resorts and concessions, including Jones Beach, Robert Moses state park and the Niagara Falls state park.

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