Lets take a tour of the 355-room resort that was being renovated in Upstate NY. The lobby, nearly finished, boasts a series of crystal chandeliers the size of four-door Hyundais. The centerpiece is a five-ton dragon boat sculpture of hand-carved jade from China. Boarded up for six years with a badly leaking roof, the former Hotel was in rough shape.
In the banquet hall the mold was this thick. The main kitchen where the roof had collapsed has been completely rebuilt and they had a crew of workers come in and acid wash the spray-painted graffiti from walls of the indoor swimming pool.
The New Owners say they've sunk $1.7 million of their own money into the property and they've applied for a $4.5 million mortgage to finish the job. They recently bought most of the nearly new furniture from the Pines Hotel in South Fallsburg. They bought furniture for 170 hotel rooms and convention seating for 4,000.
The New Owners are among the new investors in the changing Catskill resort industry. Once world-renowned as a luxurious getaway for Jewish vacationers from New York City, the region is slowly transforming into a more multi-cultural vacation spot. While the resorts are not abandoning their kosher clientele, many are reaching for new niches in the competitive resort and travel industry.
The new investors are hoping to recapture the allure of the "place in the country" where Eddie Fisher and Buddy Hackett once shared a stage at the Tamarack Lodge, where Muhammad Ali trained for legendary bouts with Joe Frazier at the Concord and where Lou Goldstein led thousands in wacky rounds of "Simon Sez" at Grossinger's.
But the changes are coming after some painful losses. The so-called "Borscht Belt" landmarks like the Browns, Grossinger's, and The Pines are closed and Abandoned.