The Saratoga Sun -

Copperline adds to Saratoga hotel list


Courtesy Dick Perue

The Copperline Lodge after renovations. Clad in Cedar and a copper-colored metal roof, the renovations restored the rustic motif of the lodge.

A Saratoga motel that closed in 1963 to become a dormitory for seasonal workers at the Old Baldy Club has reopened as a lodge, giving visitors to town another option in lodging.

The Copperline Lodge on Rochester Avenue west of Highway 130 in Saratoga was purchased by Dan Pont who spent the past year and about $200,000 renovating the property. The lodge has been taking in guests since April, but Pont is planning a grand opening celebration Friday.

The Copperline was originally opened as the Sportsman Lodge in 1958 by Fritz Wyers and Robert Calmes. The lodge changed its name to the Sportsman Motel in the early 60s.

In 1958, the Saratoga Sun reported, "The lodge includes six cabins fully equipped for light housekeeping needs and decorated in the same rustic motif as the big lodge room located in the main building, as well as four bedrooms and two baths upstairs. The main part also houses a big kitchen and laundry room."

Despite the quality of accommodations offered, the owners of the motel found that it did not make enough to pay the bills, and decided to sell the property in 1963, according to Greg Wyers, son of original owner Fritz Wyers.

It was sold to George Storer, founder of the Old Baldy Club, who used the building as a dormitory for seasonal workers for 53 years. Only open during the summer, the dormitory earned a reputation as a notorious party house with a mix of locals and out-of-town seasonal workers, Pont said. Pont said other residents told him the lodge was also popular among local youths for a time.

"This (the lodge) was often the scene of adolescent revelry outside the view of supervising adults and inside the confines of the lodge," Pont said in a written statement.

The building was for sale for 10 years before Pont and his wife purchased it in 2015, he said. The closing was delayed until October 2015 since the lodge was still in use by the Old Baldy club to house seasonal employees as the club was finishing up construction of its new worker dorms on the east side of the river, Pont said.

Once the Ponts took possession, they quickly went to work restoring the property to the modern and comfortable lodge with the rustic motif described by the Saratoga Sun in 1958. Most of the work was done by the Ponts with help from family and friends, Pont said.

The building required a new roof, and Pont's son installed a copper-colored metal roof. The building received all-new flooring throughout, with Pont tearing out the old carpeting to install knotty pine flooring to enhance the rustic motif found throughout the rest of the lodge.

The degraded old siding was removed and replaced with cedar planks which will be oiled to preserve them without paint, Pont said.

Pont estimated that so far in the renovation of the lodge, he has spent about $200,000, and the work is not yet complete. Pont also plans to install a balcony on the front of the lodge, and will also begin construction on a campground aimed at people touring on bicycles.

"We're on the Transamerica Bikeway, but there's no place for bicyclists to stay," Pont said.

The campground is intended to change that. It will feature a two-bathroom building for showers, and outdoor cooking and dining area that is sheltered from the weather. The campground will feature a sub-surface irrigation system to maintain a smooth grass surface, and will feature solar power generation for the shower building.

Construction on the campground has begun, Pont said, and he hopes to have the campground open at the beginning by next year's bike touring season.

Courtesy Dick Perue

The lodge prior to its renovation when it was a dormitory for seasonal workers at the Old Baldy Club.

Even though the lodge is having its open house Friday, it has been receiving guests since April, Pont said. So far, Pont is optimistic that the Copperline will not suffer the same fate as the other hotel that occupied the building back in the 50s.

"A few campers and renting a couple rooms is all I really need for it to pay for itself and make a little money," he said. So far, he said, the business he had over the summer turned his cash flow positive.

The Lodge used online advertising and Airbnb, an internet site that connects travelers to those willing to rent out rooms, to draw business. Over the summer, a masonry crew stayed for seven weeks.

Pont said that as the lodge becomes more well-known and word-of-mouth gets out-especially in the bike touring community-he was confident the business will thrive and bring new tourism dollars to town, and that the reliance on long-term guests will be supplanted by overnight visitors.

The Copperline Lodge will hold an open house 4-7 p.m. Oct. 14.


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