SARATOGA SPRINGS – With new hotel properties sprouting up like spring flowers throughout the 12866 zip code, there has never been a better time to celebrate the one hotel who put our town on the map.
The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs will be celebrating its silver anniversary this year – 50 years is an achievement of merit in any circumstance. As expected, they have a full slate of activities to commemorate this milestone.
But before we detail the celebrations to come, let us take a moment to recall how this property came into existence and how it was seminal in the development of the Saratoga Springs we enjoy today.
This was an example of a municipality coming together in a unique fashion. An entire community galvanized to finance the Holiday Inn’s construction. Under a slogan of “What Saratoga Springs builds - builds Saratoga Springs,” a campaign committee was formed that had community leaders with last names most people would easily recognize: for instance Benton, Grande, Roohan, Clements and Wait. Except these, of course, were the forbearers of the ones that are prominent today.
But participation extended to all levels of the community.
The idea of the campaign was to show a major hotel chain that this town was serious about building itself as a convention destination. In 1961, approximately 300 campaigners went door-to-door across the City of Saratoga Springs to sell over 15,000 shares of stock in a new convention hotel. In the end, they collected over $700,000 in cash and pledges from over 1,500 residents. Some invested as little as $50 while organizations such as Skidmore College and the Adirondack Trust Company purchased shares worth $25,000 or more.
Holiday Inn was a pioneer 50 years ago – opening ceremonies took place on August 15, 1964. Because of their commitment back then, you cannot name a hotel chain that wouldn’t want to be here.
To celebrate, there are a bevy of events scheduled:
- A Reunion of Investors: Cynthia Hollowood, general manager of the Holiday Inn, invites all investors and their families to a free Anniversary Reception and Luncheon at the hotel on May 28. At the event, The Holiday Inn will unveil a 70-foot timeline featuring its robust history and catalytic role in the revitalization of Saratoga Springs.
“We have some of the names of the original shareholders, but in 50 years people make many moves and families change. We’d like to be able to find everyone so we can invite them and their families back to the hotel they helped create,” shared Hollowood.
- Memories for Timeline: The Holiday Inn is asking community residents and guests to submit their special memories for a chance to be featured in its 50th Anniversary celebration. Selected stories will be displayed in social media, celebratory videos and on the hotel’s new 70-foot historical timeline, set to be unveiled at the end of May.
Whether it’s the day you said, “I do,” or the night you won the big award, Grandma’s 80th birthday party, your nephew’s graduation or a charity fundraiser, each individual memory, pulled together, creates 50 years of stories.
“Since our foundation, we’ve been a community-oriented hotel. We’re still here 50 years later because of the special moments our community members choose to share with us,” said Cynthia Hollowood, general manager of the Holiday Inn.
- Other Events: The Holiday Inn’s 50th Anniversary celebrations will continue throughout 2014 with a VIP Private Birthday Celebration on September 4 followed by a Community Open House on September 7. The specifics about these events will be released in the near future.
My Holiday Inn memory: As a young lad fresh out of grad school, I was thrilled to given a job as a marketing rep for a major metropolitan newspaper. My territory extended from Poughkeepsie to Montreal – the geographic mid-point was Albany, which at the time was a less-than-thrilling prospect to live in.
On a beautiful spring day in 1981, I was driving back from Montreal, when I saw the signs for Saratoga Springs – a city I had heard of but never explored. It was lunchtime, so I pulled off at Exit 14.
I passed the racecourse, racing museum and Congress Park on my way into town. Sitting on a Broadway patio, I thought: ‘We may have something here.’ But I was concerned what life would be like year-round. Did they roll up the sidewalks in the winter?
I did my due diligence and checked into the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs for a week and asked residents about life here. They assured me I’d have plenty to do all year round.
The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs helped this “City Boy” find his new home.
Plus, I collected a ton of “Priority Club” points.
“My Top Memories”
Cynthia Hollowood has been with The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs for over 30 years and its general manager since 1985. We asked her to reach back and recall her favorite moments at the hotel:
- Who would have thought? In 1983, I met a very nice couple from Ballston Spa who planned the wedding of their daughter at the hotel. On the eve of the wedding they came by to review the final arrangements. As they got up to leave my office, the husband asked, “Will you be here tomorrow? “ Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work the evening event the next day but assured them they would be well taken care of. He exclaimed, “I am not worried about that, I have 5 single, eligible sons that I would like you to meet!” Five years later I did get to meet I met one of their sons, Brien. Eventually, they would become my in-laws, Hugh and Bernice Hollowood!
- All New! When the Saratoga Springs City Center and adjoining hotel was getting ready to open in 1984, our partnership had the foresight to recognize that an improved facility was necessary to stay competitive. A major remodeling of rooms, commercial areas and new restaurant and nightclub/lounge was designed and built over the course of 12 months. In the spring of 1985, RASCALS (operated by Doug and Patty Wolfe) opened and soon became one of Saratoga’s most popular eateries and successful nightclubs for more than 10 years. From that point on, we have continued to make regular improvements to keep our business going and growing. Watch for more updates coming this year.
- The biggest (and longest) wedding of the decade: In 1989, Brien and I were married on September 3rd and held a large reception for 350 guests at the hotel that lasted over nine hours. In addition to our large families, guests included the many friends and associates we have met here at the hotel and in the business community. A total of 4 Hollowood family members have had their receptions at the hotel.
- The Best of The Best: in 1998, along with the greater Saratoga Springs community, we had the privilege of hosting the Congressional Medal of Honor Society over Flag Day weekend. In addition to a fabulous parade and series of military band concerts, the highlight of the weekend included a black tie dinner held at the hotel. We were honored to have over 160 Congressional Medal recipients under our roof and had the opportunity to learn about their heroic efforts in protecting America’s freedom. They are described as “Ordinary men who did extraordinary acts of bravery and valor.”
- 30 Years of Fun, Family and Friendship: in November 2011, I celebrated 30 years of service to the hotel. I was honored to celebrate with my teammates, partners and the many guests and community friends I have met along the way. My career, my family, my friends, my associates and our many guests all blend together to make for a full life in the world’s best community, Saratoga Springs.