The coolest souvenir from Saranac Lake, N.Y.: a sweatshirt emblazoned with “Hot Sara.” Who’s Sara? Back in the day, the neon sign atop the derelict Hotel Saranac read “Hot Sara,” when its lightbulbs burned out. When the property re-opened this year, they illuminated the letters HOT__ SARA____ first, and then lit the rest of the name. The crowd went wild, says hotel general manager Michael Salyers, adding, “We can darken those letters at will.” So, if you’re planning to propose to someone named Sara, the Hotel Saranac would be a perfect place: You may be able to talk management into dimming the lights in her honor.
You’d be in good company. Proposals and weddings are commonplace at this hotel, as are prom parties and other major life events. “About eight times a day, someone well tell me, ‘I got married here!’ ” says Salyers. Built in 1927, the Hotel Saranac has been the heart of this small (population 3,300) village in the Adirondacks for decades. Hemingway, Einstein, Twain, and assorted US presidents vacationed here. It was the first steel-and-brick building in the area; all the wooden ones burned down. Owned by Paul Smith College for a time, the venerable property ultimately closed in 2013, and was shuttered for five years. This year, the Hotel Saranac reopened, revealing a stunning $35 million dollar renovation.