It’s clear for all to see: Susanne Simpson, right now, is, unequivocally, at the top of her game.
Simpson, a Louisiana native and the General Manager of the posh/homey Pavilion Grand Hotel in Downtown Saratoga Springs, is enjoying something of a moment. If you’re in the presence of this hospitality star, you’ll feel her authentic, genteel demeanor—and it’s everything. Her career is at an apex as evidenced by the hotel’s seemingly never-ending upgrades and innovations. Simpson, who also serves as board president of Saratoga Arts, the group behind Saratoga First Night, also says she’s a happy wife and mom to her husband of more than three decades, Mark, a celebrated commercial pilot, and her two adult sons, respectively. Her life is clearly an embarrassment of riches. And she’s thriving.
When I first met Susanne, I liked her immediately, but I couldn’t quite place where her Upstate New York-Southern charm hailed from; it’s as if the longtime Saratoga resident fused the Spa City’s famed kindness with a healthy dash of Cajun spice. Make no mistake, Susanne Simpson is a hotelier for the ages.
I asked the predictably busy Susanne if she had a few minutes to sit with me and answer some questions. She agreed, and little did she know, I also needed a little fix of her singular Saratoga-meets-Louisiana charm.
Tell me, what makes yours the very best job in Saratoga?
Well, I love Saratoga Springs and I love the fact that Pavilion Grand is an independent boutique hotel located in downtown. I get to meet so many people from literally around the world and give them an experience that they can’t get any place else. I love being the person that gets to help all of this come together through this hotel for our guests.
Just between us, who are some of the celebrities who’ve stayed at the Pavilion Grand?
It’s an exciting hotel to be at for sure, as our guests enjoy the ability to be anonymous if they so choose and the space to enjoy a little time to themselves under the radar. That being said, most guests we really can’t talk about, but some of the most memorable that we can are Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and his daughter Liv, Raven Symoné, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the James Taylor Band.
Do you see your work with The Pavilion and Saratoga Arts as being complementary?
I actually do! Saratoga Arts really represents the local artist culture and creates a wonderful baseline for the art culture in Saratoga itself. The hotel accommodates travelers from around the world so that they can experience Saratoga organizations such as Saratoga Arts, SPAC, Yaddo, Caffe Lena and Universal Preservation Hall.
Saratoga is special because…
There’s no other place like it! Yes, I’m partial, but really, it’s essentially a suburb of New York City and has all of the excitement that a major metropolitan area holds. I love it here.