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Surfside Hotel Design Evokes Resort’s Mid-Century Modernist Origins

By Anthony F. Hall

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Owners Plans to Invest Millions More in  Modernizing Resort

When the Surfside, a Lake George Village resort,  opened in the 1950s, it was a motor court, with cabins separated by parking lots.

The owner then built rooms between the cabins, enclosed them all in one structure, and the Surfside became a motel.

Salim Amersi bought the resort in 1983, and under his ownership, that core building became a hotel.

“By the late 1980s, there was a shortage of lodging accommodations in Lake George, and we were encouraged to add more rooms. The issue was quantity, rather than quality. So we constructed a story above the cabins and the first motel rooms. I now have fifty units that are passe,” said Amersi.

Amersi said that he is prepared to spend between at least $5 million dollars to demolish that portion of the resort and replace it with a new building whose rooms and amenities meet the expectations of today’s visitors.

“As it is, we can’t compete with the Flags, or the brand name chain motels, which we must do if we’re to be a sustainable business in twenty five years,” said Amersi.

“I have to be able to satisfy our guests,” Amersi continued. “If I can’t do that, I shouldn’t be in the resort business.”

Amersi is scheduled to appear before Lake George Village’s Planning Board on September 17, when he hopes the board will approve the solution that he considers the best one available:  a three story building with fifty rooms and an underground parking garage.

“It’s a good project for Lake George; if something of quality is presented, it should be welcomed,” said Amersi.

According to Amersi, the design evokes the mid-century origins of the Surfside, which are most apparent in the vintage sign on Canada Street that Amersi has preserved

“It’s a contemporary building, but with a retro-feel. The Surfside never fit a rustic theme. This style of architecture is consistent with our earlier renovations down by the lake,” said Amersi.

“Design is a function of marketing,” he added, noting that he promotes vintage Lake George in his advertising. “The right design will help the resort sell itself.”

Of the fifty new rooms, ten will be two bedroom suites. But even the singles will be larger than the existing rooms, said Amersi. They will also have private balconies.

“Bigger is better in today’s market,” he said.

Moreover, he added, the new building will be able to accommodate visitors throughout the year, although he has no immediate plans to stay open year-round.

“The market cannot support that as of now,” he said.

“There are, no doubt, better investments than the resort. But it’s not always about money. Like any person with a passion for his business, whether it’s a large business or a small one,

you want it to be the best that it can be,” Amersi said.

Amersi said he hopes to break ground this fall and open the new hotel to guests in May, 2015.

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