The Saratoga Casino and Raceway has a new name intended to help it compete with the coming River Casino in Schenectady: The Saratoga Casino Hotel.
The name change announced Wednesday doesn’t lessen the important of harness racing, but reflects the important of a new 117-room luxury hotel to the future of the video lottery casino.
“For the first time in our 75-year history, we are positioned as a comprehensive entertainment destination,” said Rita Cox, senior vice-president for marketing and external affairs.
A crew from Adirondack Sign Co. mounted the noon identification sign at noon Wednesday, though the hotel remains a work in progress and isn’t scheduled to open until early July. The hotel will also include a Mortons The Steakhouse, part of a national chain not currently in the Capital Region.
The $40 million project is the first hotel ever at the Jefferson Street property, which opened as a harness racing track in 1941 and has had VLT gaming since 2004. Work on the hotel began last year, after Schenectady was awarded the Capital Region’s only full-gaming casino.
The hotel is currently taking reservations for stays starting July 11, though Cox said they hope to open a few days earlier.
Officials at the racino have feared the opening of the Rivers Casino next spring could hurt their business. costing some of the existing 600 jobs.
“We believe with this hotel we are competing on a level playing field with other destinations,” Cox said. “The new name is about offering everything under one roof.”
The casino and hotel will attract people just by being in Saratoga Springs, Cox said. “We’re in Saratoga, which is a world-class destination,” she said.
That means the property will be marketed, starting next week, as offering accommodations, dining, gambling, live music and horse racing, all at a single location.
“We must continuously evolve to meet the needs of the community at the marketplace,” Cox said.
While any reference to horse racing is disappearing from the business name, Cox said the track will be emphasized in promotions. “We’re actually going to promote horse racing more than in the past. We will be promoting everything we have. We will be a destination location that will offer racing and gambling and dining and music.”
She said the high level of luxury in the hotel will set it apart from the competition.
“I think it’s what we have to do to compete,” she said. “This hotel is even more important with the competition coming.”
Rates for a roof with two queen beds will range from around $500 per night on a weekend during the August tourism-thoroughbred racing season to $115 per night in November.
About 100 new jobs will be created with the hotel, restaurant and an in-hotel cafe. A job fair to fill those jobs will be held May 16 at Vapors, the on-site nightclub.
Cox said there are a combination of year-round full-time and part-time jobs.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.