Saratoga County

Changes at baths proving popular

Visitors to the Roosevelt Baths can now relax in undiluted mineral water in two of the 42 baths, and
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Visitors to the Roosevelt Baths can now relax in undiluted mineral water in two of the 42 baths, and two more are expected to be complete by July 4.

The pure mineral baths have met a positive response from patrons after two tankless water heaters were installed before Memorial Day weekend, said Bob Kuhn, assistant regional director for the Saratoga Capital Region of State Parks.

“People who have taken baths in the directly heated mineral water … have enjoyed the experience,” Kuhn said.

The $100,000 renovation project is a partnership between the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Delaware North, which operates the Gideon Putnam Resort and the baths.

The Buffalo-based company has been promoting the Roosevelt Baths this summer as the only place in Saratoga that people can bathe in pure mineral water, said Kuhn, noting that other spas run bath water the same way that the Roosevelt Baths have been run since the 1980s — by mixing cold mineral water with hot tap water.

Most of the baths are still drawn that way at Roosevelt Baths too, Kuhn said.

“The patrons will have a choice. We haven’t eliminated the way baths have been drawn for the past 20 years.”

The baths cost the same to the customer whether they’re diluted or not — $25 for a 40-minute soak and $20 for a 20-minute bath.

The bath water originally was heated pure mineral water, but the minerals corroded the tank and pipes over the years.

“By the 1980s, the whole piping and tank system was so crusty and corroded,” Kuhn said. “That’s when we abandoned that system and adopted the system of drawing the mineral water cold.”

Some people have said adding tap water increased the baths’ effervescence.

But it became controversial when The New York Post printed a story about the water change in March 2007 and state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno called for an investigation into the practice of mixing tap water with mineral water.

The new system is designed to decrease damage by directly heating water without a tank as it is drawn into the baths, Kuhn said. Since the water is on the move, the minerals won’t precipitate out as quickly.

“Hopefully we’ve found a new way to offer a traditional mineral water bath that isn’t going to cause all the problems that it used to,” he said.

It was developed specially for the baths by Phil Henzel, regional maintenance supervisor for state parks. The system also includes a flushing mechanism to clean out any minerals in the boiler each day.

“We think that’s going to radically reduce the amount of buildup and precipitation in the boiler,” Kuhn said.

Other renovations to the Gideon Putnam Resort and the baths are in the works, said Michael Barnes, general manager.

Delaware North expects to upgrade treatment rooms and lobby decor in the baths, add new coffee, tea and lunch services and a solitary relaxation room.

“In addition to the conversion of the baths, we are adding graphic panels in the relaxation rooms that tell the story of the springs and help guests connect with the place they are visiting,” Barnes said. Similar panels will be installed in the hotel’s main lobby explaining the history of the state park and the hotel.

The company also plans to fund a multi-million-dollar remodeling of the hotel and conference center that will focus on the lobby, dining facilities and guest rooms.

Hotel rooms will get new pillows and comforters by the middle of this summer, Barnes said.

An engineering study that will focus on future renovation possibilities is expected to be done by the middle of summer.

Categories: Schenectady County

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