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Spa City Wedding Resort To Host Divorce Weekends

The Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs is a gracious Georgian style hotel and conference center.
The Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs is a gracious Georgian style hotel and conference center.

A well-known wedding destination  in Saratoga Springs will soon host a new kind of service – divorce. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, the unusual plan has gone viral.

Revealed in an article this week in the New York Post, the Gideon Putnam Resort in the Saratoga Spa State Park will offer, for a flat fee of $5,000, a weekend where couples can come, relax, and get divorced.

The hotel is hosting the services of Netherlands-based company DivorceHotel. Company founder Jim Halferns told the Post after couples sign the paperwork on Sunday, “all work is done and we send it to a judge who only puts a stamp on it to make it official.”

Some guests may even choose to have their divorce as part of a new reality TV show.

Rob Sgarlata, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Gideon Putnam, said DivorceHotel reached out after identifying Saratoga Springs as a desirable place to launch the first-of-its-kind service in the U.S.

Sgarlata said, “once they made that determination, they determined that the Gideon Putnam offers the kind of environment that they’re looking for when they provide these services."

A popular location for getaway weekends, weddings and bar mitzvahs, the Gideon Putnam’s goals align with what is desired by DivorceHotel, according to Sgarlata.

“We are providing the best guest experience based on what our client has identified to us as their desire, and our job is to provide the best environment to our guest," said Sgarlata.

Sgarlata said guests through DivorceHotel will be treated the same as all guests and doesn’t believe the relationship with the company will have a negative impact on business. But he admitted the agreement has drawn mixed reaction on social media.

“You know obviously, all kinds of comments have been made on social media, but that’s the nature of social media, and interestingly enough on Sunday we participating in a wedding show, so it will be interesting to see what conversations we have," said Sgarlata. "But really all the conversations that we have had with people so far really is more about 'gee, congratulations about being in the New York Post.'"

Michelle Martin, divorce mediator for DivorceHotel, said she was not surprised with all the attention paid to the company in recent days.

"Because when DivorceHotel was launched in Europe it got the same sort of attention, of course, because generally people associate divorce with this long drawn-out process, and not with being at a luxury hotel," said Martin.

"But it shouldn't be considered a vacation weekend, it's just a great option for many couples who are divorcing," added Martin.

Capital Region divorce attorney Mario Cometti has his doubts about a smooth weekend-long divorce process, especially when children or business assets are brought into the process.

“Getting a divorce isn’t as easy as getting married. I mean, everyone can go to Las Vegas and get married within a couple minutes, but it's not like jumping in the pool and jumping out the pool. Once you're in the pool there's all sorts of entanglements that go on and legal reprocussions that need some thought and diligence in figuring it out," said Cometti.

Asked if he thought the concept of a weekend divorce would catch on in the U.S., Cometti said, "I wouldn’t bet on it."

DivorceHotel is set to begin operating in Saratoga Springs this fall.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.