Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn Changes Hands | News, Sports, Jobs


Village Mayor Art Devlin poses next to the road sign for Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn in Lake Placid on October 6. (Business Photo – Lauren Yates)

LAKE PLACID – Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn, a Lake Placid staple for nearly 70 years, has officially changed hands. Although the hotel property no longer bears Devlin’s name, the new owners say they plan to carry on the hotel’s family legacy.

The village mayor, Art Devlin, has lived at the Olympic Motor Inn all his life. Like his father and namesake, Devlin was born and raised on the property. He still lives there with his wife, Sue. But earlier this month, as Devlin strolled the hotel grounds, he was taking his first steps into a new era in his life. Devlin sold the motel in September, and soon he and Sue are moving into a new house in Lake Placid.

Devlin said it was “time” for him to sell the motel. He turns 65 in December, and between being mayor and running a hotel, he said, “my golf suffered.” He said it was also difficult to get help running the motel, with local businesses in Lake Placid and the area struggling to find staff.

Running a hotel is challenging, Devlin said — in some ways it’s like running a farm. There’s always something to do. He still remembers growing up with buzzers all over his family’s house that connected to a guest button in the main hall. When a guest needed something and no one was at the reception, Devlin’s family home was filled with a buzz that made him tense. As the hotel owner, when a hotel guest locked themselves out of their room at 2am, it was always their responsibility to crawl out of bed and help. He said he is ready to hand over to a new owner who will update the hotel’s maintenance, systems and technology.

“I think it was just about time” said Devlin. “For 32 years we have had great customers and employees, most of whom have become friends. Special thanks to my wife Sue for adjusting to a 24/7/365 lifestyle and 32 years of muffin making.

An old postcard shows Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn outdoor swimming pool, date unknown. (Photo provided)

History of the hotel

The Olympic Motor Inn, though modest in its street view from State Route 86 in Lake Placid, is steeped in history. This is evident upon entering the hotel’s main building, where a first-floor display case houses more than 100 trophies and awards won by Devlin’s father, a legendary Olympic ski jumper, decorated World War II veteran, color commentator for ABC Sports and vice chairman of the 1980 Olympics Organizing Committee. But the building’s history goes back even before the advent of motor vehicles – the building was once a stable, then the first home of Devlin’s grandfather. It was where Devlin’s father was born, the site of the first two bed and breakfasts built on the property when it finally opened as a hotel in 1953, and where the father de Devlin died in 2004.

From the early days of the two-bedroom hotel has come measured growth. Devlin’s father slowly added rooms to the property, which peaked at 40 rooms when he owned the hotel. Devlin said when his father decided to sell the hotel in the 1990s, someone offered to buy it with the intention of converting the 2.5-acre property into a strip mall. Instead, his father sold him the hotel. It was January 1992, Devlin recalls, and he was 35. He bought the hotel during a particularly cold winter period – when daytime highs were around 0 degrees and nighttime lows dipped below 20. At the time, only eight of the hotel’s rooms were insulated.

The village mayor, Art Devlin, looks at the trophies his father, a former Olympic ski jumper, won in competitions earlier this month. The trophy display case, located in the main lobby of Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn, will remain on display with the hotel’s change of ownership. (Business Photo – Lauren Yates)

“I remember climbing that hill thinking, ‘Oh, this is all mine now'” Devlin said, “and I think, ‘Am I crazy?'”

For the next 15 years, Devlin invested in renovating the hotel. It was in poor condition when he bought it, he said, and over time he isolated and modernized the rest of the rooms. He spent summers running the busy hotel and winters renovating the rooms. It was difficult, he said, “but we did it.” Today, the hotel has 50 rooms.

Devlin’s father was able to see his birthplace – a room above the hall of the main building – renovated before his death. His father loved building and Devlin said he was able to make many improvements that his father wanted to do but couldn’t due to financial constraints and raising a family. His father was able to see all his dreams come true.

“We were able to do the things he wanted to do the first time around,” said Devlin. “It was really great to have him here to give me ideas.”

In September 2003, Art Devlin Sr. went for a spin in his friend’s Porsche. Afterwards, he felt disoriented and sick. He went to the doctor and found out he had a brain tumor. He died the following April at age 81, just months after the hotel’s 50th anniversary and the completion of renovations.

new blood

Andrew Milne, owner of the Sara Placid Inn and Suites and Amanda’s Village Hotel in Saranac Lake, is one of the owners who will take over the Olympic Motor Inn. Devlin said he sold the motel for $4.4 million.

Although not part of the Devlin family, Milne also grew up in the hospitality industry. He worked at the front desk of a Holiday Inn while attending high school in North Carolina, and worked his way up to become a hotel owner over the years. He has owned his hotels in Saranac Lake for four years now.

Milne said the new owner of the Olympic Motor Inn will continue to display Art Devlin Sr.’s medals, and they plan to install a multimedia booth that tells the story of Devlin and Lake Placid. Milne said there were plans to upgrade rooms and install electric vehicle charging stations, but he said there would be no “big construction project” The hotel will remain open during these renovations.

The hotel’s new owners want to build on the legacy of Art Devlin Sr. and Jr., Milne said, and part of that is keeping the hotel’s name and sign, which features the Olympic rings. .

The hotel was originally called “Devlin’s Motel.” When the hotel opened, Art Sr. was still considered a “amateur athlete and was prevented from putting his name on anything marketable. But after retiring from competition in 1960, he changed the name of the hotel to “The Olympic Motor Inn at Devlin” and included the Olympic rings in the design of the sign – this was just a few years before the rings were copyrighted, according to Devlin.

Another piece of Devlin history that will live on the hotel property is in the form of two large blue spruce trees at the front of the property, planted in memory of Devlin’s father and mother, Helen.

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