Saratoga Springs Enjoys the Winners Circle

A visit from the newest Triple Crown winner shines a light on this destination's many attributes

Saratoga Race Course thoroughbred track

    All eyes may have been on Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah, the wonder horse, in August during the Travers Stakes, the oldest major thoroughbred race in the United States, but the scene-stealer was the city of Saratoga Springs, NY, a sophisticated destination that impresses visitors by embracing the past, present, and future.

For those with an interest in history, Saratoga Springs is a key site of the American Revolution. Its springs, some freshwater, others carbonated, have been attracting tourists for decades who believe the waters have healing powers. The world of the future abounds, as Saratoga is the heart of New York State's Tech Valley and home to GLOBALFOUNDRIES, a semiconductor manufacturer that recently opened a $4.6 billion, 2 million-square-foot campus.

The influx of tech-focused companies is just one of the many factors that attracted SEMI, a global association for the micro- and nano-electronics industries, to the city for its past five annual conferences. "Saratoga Springs may be considered a tier-two or -three city by some, but the service we receive is tier one.  From top down, everyone goes above and beyond," says Margaret Kindling SEMI's senior program manager based in Washington, D.C.

A Foundation of Saratoga's History
One of the things this destination treasures most is its connection to horses, and it is proud to be home to the nation's oldest thoroughbred track -- Saratoga Race Course. A world-renowned sporting venue, the course opened in 1863.

This year's $1.6 million Travers, the most popular day of Saratoga horseracing, was more exciting than ever as American Pharoah competed. Pharoah, the overwhelming favorite, came up short, losing to winner Keen Ice by three-quarters of a length before a stunned crowd. Watching the races is as much fun as watching the crowd, as men in blazers and women in prodigious hats stroll the grounds.

Even harness racing has a lengthy history here, as the Saratoga harness track opened in 1941. Today known as the Saratoga Casino and Raceway, there is not only harness racing but a casino as well. Several areas within the complex can accommodate groups, and a 108-room hotel with meeting rooms is presently under construction, slated to open next summer.

The Lodge, a private event venue, recently opened here as well. The historic building, constructed at the turn of the century as the residence of businessman and horsebreeder Harry Payne Whitney, stages various private events. The venue can accommodate groups of up to 100, with another 200 in a tented area. The impressive 149-all-suite Embassy Suites opened in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs in March. The hotel's 6,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 3,500-square-foot ballroom and seven flexible conference spaces, complete with state-of-the-art A/V technology and dedicated catering staff, is ideal for meetings and events for 220 people.

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This article appears in the October 2015 issue of Successful Meetings.