LAC SARANAC – Saranac Waterfront Lodge is seeking additional investors for the boutique hotel on the Pontiac Bay shore of Flower Lake as it struggles to recover after fire damaged the building earlier this year.
A registration on the Berkadia commercial mortgage service does not include a price. Berkadia adviser Denny Meikleham called this a “recapitalization”, not a sale.
Basically, the hotel’s general manager, Anura Dewapura, said having more investors means the hotel will have better financial options. He said the fate of the hotel would not be at stake if it could not attract more investors, but that it would contribute to the success of the new lodge.
He said there are currently about three main investors. Two who have been nominated are Leland “Lee” Pilsbury from Maryland and Mark Pacala from Washington, DC
The investment in Berkadia was listed two to three weeks ago. He says it comes with the option of being affiliated with a hotel brand, with Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton included as examples on the list.
The hotel had been open for 50 days when on January 5 a fire broke out in 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 expected. They had to replace the carpet, decor and drywall in areas of the five floors as water, smoke and fire damage spread throughout the building.
Dewapura previously called the reopening a “costly deal” but did not say how much it cost.
He said prices for all building materials had “skyrocketed”, doubling at times. Other hotel maintenance costs have also increased, including food.
For this reason, he said further development plans have been postponed, including work on the marina and landscaping.
But Dewapura said the setback hasn’t stopped the hotel from having a successful spring season so far.
“We are going strong. We’re fine, ”he said.
He said Memorial Day weekend was busy and “fab”. He said that in three days the Boathouse pub had hosted 1,000 diners and hotel rooms were 85% occupied on weekends.
He said many Boathouse diners were locals, as well as visitors. He said he tried to talk to everyone who ate there.
The investigation into the cause of the fire, which began in an HVAC unit, is still ongoing. Dewapura said the rest of the units have been inspected and found to be safe by the manufacturer.
“Safety comes first,” he said.
Dewapura said the Lodge faces the same understaffing issues that businesses across the country face. He said finding employees is “almost like finding gold.”
Dewapura said there are several reasons for this.
On Memorial Day weekend he said “everyone was on the bridge.”
The hotel offers incentives such as sign-up or sponsorship bonuses and looks for waiters, bartenders, and housekeepers.