In the quaint, throw-back surrounds of New York’s adventure capital, Lake Placid, the echo of past Olympic glory from two World Games are met with the ambition of today’s amateur athletes. The bustling Northeastern town is basecamp for a winter wonderland of snow sports, thanks in part to its location near 46 mountain peaks above 4,000 feet in elevation and a USOC-sanctioned Olympic Training Center, one of three nationally.
Ensuring that snow fiends and their families rest easy since it opened in 2005 is Whiteface Lodge, master of rustic luxury and Adirondack elegance on the outskirts of downtown. Within minutes of its 94 spacious suites are world-class bobsled runs, ski jumping facilities, miles of cross-country trails, and the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies on Whiteface Mountain.
Miles of cross-country skiing trails surround Whiteface Lodge
Copyright: Whiteface Lodge
From the wood-plank ceilings and white pine beams to the reception desks with real birch-bark paneling, everything about Whiteface Lodge connects deeply and stylishly with the six million acres of rugged forest in the Adirondack Park. Perhaps that’s because much of the wood used in construction was reclaimed from the trees that once stood on the hotel’s current grounds.
Its winding, tree-lined driveway funnels new arrivals to a grandiose peaked entrance, where a covered walkway leads to the traditional alpine lobby. Cast-iron pine cone lights and antler chandeliers glow against the heavily wooded interiors and reflect off the smooth marble floors. After checking in, guests can proceed straight through the back of the hotel into the manicured courtyard for a stroll. The outdoor grounds feature a fire pit encircled by Adirondack chairs, an indoor-outdoor pool and jacuzzi area (adult-only options available), and a 7,200 square-foot ice rink exclusive to hotel guests.
Inside on the second floor, stone fireplaces surrounded by hefty leather chairs and couches hem in the cozy KANU Lounge. A hand-crafted pine-and-birch liquor chest supplies bartenders with the juice for finely crafted cocktails, like the Spiced Roughrider Barrel-Aged Manhattan, an oaked-aged cocktail using Long Island Spirits’ Roughrider Bourbon. The corresponding chalet-style restaurant has an open kitchen featuring “Adirondack-inspired” cuisine, including the 21-day dry-aged bone-in New York strip steak with blue cheese butter.
You’ll be back for… the robust cocktail program and spirits menu. Forget simple beer or wine flights; patrons can order one-ounce side-by-side pairings of liquor that allow for comparisons of aged scotch, cognac, grappa and more. A blind vodka tasting will surely challenge your notion of Grey Goose—better or worse than select Polish or Russian competitors?
PHOTO GALLERY: TAKE A TOUR OF WHITEFACE LODGE
The Whiteface Lodge is the only all-suite property in the Adirondacks.
Copyright: Whiteface Lodge
The Whiteface Lodge is the only all-suite property in the Adirondacks, with its roomy accommodations ranging from 700-2,300 square feet. A two-bedroom bi-level “palace” is an ideal mountain home for a long weekend or extended stay. The base level features a full kitchen, dining room, stone fireplace facing the voluptuous couch and loungers of the living room, and an adequate second bedroom with a cushy queen and full bath.
The loft-style master bedroom upstairs consists of a plush king, two-person jetted tub, dual bathroom sinks, elevated views into the mountains and walk-in closet. The woodwork is impressive—classic pine-tree designs carved from the wood-panel railings; a ceiling of horizontal hardwood slabs; and bed frames assembled from hickory. Light fixtures with cast-iron deer, elk and pine cones add to the strong sense of place. Custom-branded bath products and LG flat-screen televisions round out the in-room amenities.
You’ll be back for… the vast balcony suitable enough for a small cocktail party. The wicker bench and chairs with padded furnishings provide a front row seat for the light show of stars up above and a whiff of the satisfying aroma unique to the Adirondacks—a combination of old-growth woodlands, damp soil and moist air ingrained with the minerals of ancient rock. You may just sleep out here!
THE SKIER ADVANTAGE
There is no ski concierge nor is the property located slopeside—in fact, there is no ski-in, ski-out accommodations in the area period—but the Whiteface Lodge is nonetheless deserving of its name. Located 15 miles from the mountain, the hotel regularly designs packages for alpine-oriented guests that include lift tickets, après-ski spa treatments and seasonal cocktails. Exact details are yet to be finalized for this winter.
Among the other skier-worthy indulgences are nightly s’mores around an open fire, star-gazing jacuzzis, live music at KANU and local suds from the region’s two microbreweries, Lake Placid and Great Adirondack. Kamp Kanu, a daytime program for children, lets the parents play during the day, while nightlife is a short shuttle ride to Main Street and back.
You’ll be back for… the two on-site lean-tos, or slope-roofed shelters, open on one end and common to Adirondack backpackers. These deluxe versions located in the courtyard are ideal for evening lounging on padded loveseats and chairs in front of a natural-wood stove. The bartenders at KANU and their warming cocktails or cigars are just a phone call away.
Deluxe lean-tos at Whiteface Lodge are ideal for evening lounging on padded loveseats and chairs in front of a natural-wood stove.
Copyright: Whiteface Lodge
THE BOTTOM LINE
We haven’t even highlighted the Maple Butter Body Wraps or Apple Cider Masque and Massage treatments at the 5,800 square-foot spa, the vintage Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor with a wall full of candy, or the two-lane bowling alley and full game room. And that’s OK; they’re all bonuses on top of a thriving cocktail program, opulent rooms, unique touches that are classically Adirondack, and an overall design that expertly captures the environment in which the hotel inconspicuously resides.