Construction of hotel at racino well under way

Construction is well under way at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway hotel, which is expected to open in May or June of 2016.

The 117-room hotel will include a 3,000 square foot meeting and event space, an indoor pool, a fitness center, a business lounge, a Starbucks kiosk and a steakhouse.

The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce held a Hard Hat Breakfast Thursday morning at Saratoga Casino and Raceway, located at 342 Jefferson St., where chamber members had the opportunity to tour the under construction hotel, view a model room, and hear from casino general manager Tom Wiedmayer to learn more about the expansion.

With a competing casino coming into Schenectady, “We need to protect our business,” Wiedmayer said during his presentation, mentioning that studies show the new casino could take away as much as 40 percent of the Saratoga Springs casino’s business.

So, to make the Saratoga Casino and Raceway more attractive and expand its geographical reach, casino officials made the decision to add a hotel onto the facility, which already includes the gaming floor, a nightclub, two dining facilities and the harness track. Given the situation, Wiedmayer said, “It makes perfect sense. It’s the right thing to do.”

However, the hotel isn’t a direct response to the Schenectady casino, which is called Rivers Casino & Resort. Tentative plans for a hotel at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway have been in discussion for about a decade.

But now they are completely drawn up and coming to life thanks to Kirchhoff-Consigli Construction Management and Tishman Construction.

Wiedmayer shared blueprints and renderings with the thursday morning crowd, including details down to the flooring and lighting fixtures. He described the hotel lobby as “really something magnificent,” though right now the space is simply concrete and steel beams.

He called the hotel at large “a rich and handsome property we’re offering in the marketplace.”

So far, construction crews have installed 650 tons of steel and 4,097 yards of concrete.

They have put it 45,792 man hours, with 91,584 to go before the hotel opens its doors.

On any given day there are about 135 workers on site. “That’s 135 people in the community who are working right now and will be working all the way through next June on a project that I know they’re all going to be proud of,” said chamber president Todd Shimkus.

The majority of the construction going forward will be interior work.

The chamber group was able to visit a finished and decorated Saratoga Springs-themed model room in the otherwise under construction hotel. Shimkus called the artwork in the room, which featured images of the springs, ballet slippers and the Spirit of Life statue in Congress Park, “a great promotion for Saratoga Springs and the region.”

The group also visited an unfinished executive king suite, of which there will be 13 in the hotel once it’s finished.

Rentals from event-goers and corporate groups will make up less than half of the hotel’s business, Wiedmayer projected.

The majority of the rooms, he continued, will be regularly rented to casino guests, and those guests will be encouraged to explore Saratoga Springs.

“I think people really need to understand the point that Tom made that they expect most of the business is going to come from existing casino customers. Folks who, right now, drive in and leave,” Shimkus said. “And we get to capture them, keep them here and hopefully, with the help of the casino and raceway, entice them to visit all of Saratoga.”

When looked at in comparison to other similar casinos in the Northeast, “The only casino and hotel that you can go to in Saratoga Springs is this one,” Shimkus said, “We’re going to sell the city as the attraction.”