Saranac Waterfront Lodge seeks more investors after fire, reopening | News, Sports, Jobs

Anura Dewapura, managing director of the Saranac Waterfront Lodge, poses in front of the Saranac Lake hotel in March.
(Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Waterfront Lodge is seeking more investors for the boutique hotel on the shore of Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay as it works to get back on its feet after fire damaged the building earlier this year.

A listing on the commercial mortgage service Berkadia does not include a price. Berkadia Advisor Denny Meikleham called this a “recapitalization,” not a sale.

Basically, hotel Managing Director Anura Dewapura said having more investors means the hotel will have better financial options. He said the fate of the hotel does not hang in the balance if it cannot secure more investors but that it would help the new lodge’s success.

He said there are around three main investors currently. Two who have been named are Leland “Lee” Pilsbury of Maryland and Mark Pacala of Washington, D.C.

The investment on Berkadia was listed two to three weeks ago. It says it comes with the option to affiliate with a hotel brand, with Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton included as examples on the listing.

The hotel had been open for 50 days when on Jan. 5 a fire sprung out of a second-floor heating and air conditioning unit, causing damage and closing the lodge for 118 days.

Dewapura said the fire cost existing investors more money than was expected. They had to replace carpet, decor and drywall in areas of all five floors, as damage from water, smoke and fire had spread throughout the building.

Dewapura has previously called the reopening a “costly affair” but has not said how much it cost.

This week, he said that the prices of all building supplies have gone “through the roof,” doubling at some points. Other costs of maintaining a hotel have also increased, including food.

Because of this, he said plans for further development have been postponed, including work on the marina and landscaping.

But Dewapura said the setback has not stopped the hotel from having a successful spring season thus far.

“We are going strong. We are doing well,” he said.

He said the Memorial Day weekend was busy and “fabulous.” He said in three days the Boathouse pub brought in 1,000 diners and that rooms at the hotel were at 85% occupancy through the weekend.

He said many of the Boathouse diners were locals, as well as visitors. He said he tried to talk with everyone who eats there.

The investigation into the cause of the fire, which started in an HVAC unit, is still ongoing. Dewapura said the rest of the units have been inspected and deemed safe by the manufacturer.

“Safety comes first,” he said.

Dewapura said the Lodge is facing the same understaffing problems businesses all over the country are experiencing. He said finding employees is “like practically finding gold.”

Dewapura said there are various reasons for the cause of this.

On Memorial Day weekend he said it was “all hands on deck.”

The hotel is offering incentives such as sign-up or referral bonuses and is searching for servers, bartenders and housekeepers.

Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox