About eight years ago, I purchased a financially distressed resort property — a major Ulster County employer — The Hudson Valley Resort, also known as the Granit Hotel, for $20 million. I was not only investing in the current value, but also the future potential that existed at the time.
After the real estate collapse at the end of 2008, our real estate development dreams were lost. Although it has been very tough keeping the doors open the past few years (and so many other resorts have shut down), at no time did we give up on our employees and the guests who come to enjoy our resort and the beautiful surrounding area. With a great thanks to our amazing General Manager Orest, and to our entire staff who work so hard, we continue to provide great service and keep our doors open year-round.
We are asking for a resolution permitting the operation of video lottery terminals (VLTs) at two Kerhonkson resorts: my Hudson Valley Resort and the Pinegrove Ranch. We are not proposing the construction of mega-resort casinos. We simply wish to level the playing field a bit by adding VLTs so we can compete in this tough market.
Ulster County is second to none in natural beauty. We have a long proud tradition of tourism going back to the days of the famed Catskills resorts and thousands of summer guests from around the world. The people here are friendly, enthusiastic and hard-working. VLTs could tip the scales in our favor when trying to compete for tourism dollars against the gaming resorts elsewhere.
We have every advantage in terms of the region and the people. We simply need the ability to allow those who are now going to full casinos to choose the best of both worlds: the beauty of Ulster County and resorts with VLTs.
The economic impact from allowing VLTs would be felt immediately: Part-time employees would become year-round, full-time employees. We have great employees, we just do not have enough room nights to keep them working.
I support a casino at the Nevele. It can serve to resurrect the lost tourism industry of Ulster County. However, one casino on its own will not create a regional tourist destination alone; there should be many successful establishments that in total Ulster County once again will become a sustaining destination resort area.
I ask Ulster County Executive Hein and the county legislators to approve the operation of video lottery terminals in Kerhonkson at these two specific resorts. I thank you for your support.
Mr. Spitzer is the owner of Hudson Valley Resort, not to be confused with the former New York governor with the same name.