Celebrating The Pavilion Grand Hotel’s Bicentennial Origins

If Mary Poppins were a guest at the Pavilion Grand Hotel, she’d probably float down on her umbrella from the clouds and land on the roof. I thought of Ms. Poppins the other day as I enjoyed a birds-eye view of Saratoga Springs—its lush canopy of trees and fabulous architecture—from one of the hotel’s top-of-the-town terraces. General Manager Susanne Simpson calls the upscale outdoor spaces, with their sunshine, fresh air, shrubs and flowers, “the softer side of Saratoga,” and each of the eight penthouse suites has a private rooftop terrace or garden.

When the Pavilion Grand opened its Lake Avenue location five years ago, it was named for the Pavilion Hotel, a deluxe establishment that debuted on Broadway two centuries ago this year, where City Hall now stands. Back then, men in top hats and women in gowns strolled through the hotel’s gardens, sipping and bathing in the waters of the nearby spring. The old Pavilion burned down in 1843, but this year the Pavilion Grand is remembering and celebrating its 200th anniversary.

A 19th-century lithograph of the original Pavilion Grand. (Saratoga Room/Saratoga Springs Library)

“Everything we do is based on the tradition of that hotel,” says Simpson. “Its form of opulence was caring for its guests.” The new Pavilion, a boutique luxury hotel with 54 accommodations, including the Fish at 30 Lake restaurant, The Blue Peacock Bistro and Make Me Fabulous Salon and Spa all under its roof, promises “simple European elegance.”

Special guests? Why, of course. Bigtime Thoroughbred trainers, international dignitaries, entertainers, princes and other royals, orchestra soloists, governors and congressmen have all stayed within its walls. The names are hush-hush, except for a certain rock star: “[Aerosmith lead singer] Steven Tyler was here four days last winter,” says Simpson. Late polo star Sunny Hale was also a regular. And of course, there’s Mary Poppins, too—but she’s only a figment of my imagination. Or is she?

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