People have called me a romantic on steroids. Personally, I think they are actually underestimating my tendencies. There are two hoop skirts in the closet, and summer must include multiple picnics with a book of poetry tucked into the basket. You can imagine my glee when we rolled through the flag-draped town of Lake Placid and pulled up to the historic Mirror Lake Inn.
- Note: This post was written in February 2020, before the US/Canada border was closed and the world shifted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I felt uncomfortable publishing travel articles when it was not safe to move about. Now that the Canadian government has lifted it’s non-essential travel advisory, and vaccines are plentiful, things can slowly return to normal. One of the first places I want to visit is the Adirondacks.
Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid
Built in 1924, the lodge has been presented with several 4-diamond awards for cuisine and wine selections. It’s always difficult to pinpoint highlights when everything is outstanding, but in this case I would have to mention the service. And the food. And the history. Perfectly poached eggs were served by highly trained staff, and the lady who cleaned our floor even called in a panic when one of our party left her passport in the safe. Every afternoon, tea and chocolate chip cookies are served in the sprawling lobby. While some ‘nouveau’ resorts try to mimic a vintage feel, this one is the real deal. A silver tea service sits unobtrusively on a table, while an antique harp tempts little fingers on the other side of the room. Real wood burns in an anti-room fireplace and the head of a deer overhead is adorned with bows and beads left over from the busy holiday season. As giant snowflakes tumbled outside on a Thursday in February, I was longing to be wearing the red and while gown Rosemary Clooney wore in White Christmas.
The Mirror Lake Inn has only had two owners, and the current family offers some very special perks. The Weibrechts have several highly successful children, but it’s Andrew whose name is whispered in the lobby and nearby Whiteface Mountain. A two-time Olympic medalist for Super-G, Andrew’s image is scattered throughout the lodge. You can take a selfie with his medals, or traipse down to the ski rental shop at the Inn and have your premium planks tuned by Andrew and his brother. No biggie. (SIGN ME UP.) Even more outstanding is that you can hire Andrew to guide you on the slopes for a half day. If downhill isn’t your thing, they have an extra Olympian hanging about who will guide you along Nordic tracks. Because apparently in Lake Placid, Olympians are just everywhere.
When I saw the facilities, outbuildings and amenities at Mirror Lake Inn I felt actual longing to bring my kids. It’s not the uber-modern hotel that my Gen-Zs gravitate towards, but my sensibilities should soon rub off on them. Where they will fall in love is with the skating rink in front of the quaint Cottage on the lake. The huge toboggan slide for adrenaline-junkies that spits you out mid-lake, the dogsledding, and indoor pool surrounded by log cabin-details that looks like a grotto in a spaghetti Western. In summer, Andrew’s brother Johnathan is the tennis pro, there are boats for use at the private resort beach, and the outdoor pool is up for grabs.
Traveling mid-week right after President’s Week meant that the Inn wasn’t over-crowded, though still had a vibe. Two nights at the Inn stand out and will be etched in my memory for eternity. Us Canadians held our own at Thursday trivia at the Cottage while the snow fell heavily outside. A big plate of nachos and prosecco on tap made us far smarter about 80’s trivia. Packed with guests and locals, we developed quite the banter with the table next to us as we each tried to throw the other off the trail of a correct answer. One of my traveling companions, who may have forgotten her passport (MOMMY GEAREST) is the yin to my yang. Both lovers of musical theatre, she provides the perfect pop-karaoke trills while I belt my soprano with theatrical antics. We are quite the sight/sound. The bar just off the lobby was fairly quiet. Until she pulled out her karaoke mic. Starting the evening off with a bit of Wicked, some Gwen Stefani, one by one guests peeked around the corner or wandered into the bar like moths to a flame. The bartender was not only a great sport, but seemed genuinely giddy and our impromptu event. Other guests sang favourite country tunes as colleagues captured video evidence.
As you guys know, where I have talent in theatre, sitting in a spa is not my forte. I get my nails done begrudgingly when they really need it. Massage is fine, but the sitting around afterward makes me squirly. This would truly put the spa to the test. I hadn’t had a facial in years, and before my treatment, actually thought they were a bit hokum. My aesthetician introduced herself and I waited for the barrage of insults – wow your skin is dry. Do you know what eye cream is? Drugstore products I suspect…. She said none of these. Super knowledgeable and on-trend with ingredients and skin care practices, she shared information for both myself and my teenage son. I didn’t have to talk if I wasn’t feeling chatty, and left not only fully relaxed but with dewey, illuminated skin. What have I been thinking? Why don’t I do this more? But now I have to go back to Mirror Lake for my facials as I have been spoiled.
Lake Placid is not shy about its illustrious Olympic past. The only town to host two winter Olympic games, in 1932 and 1980, sports fans will never tire of activities there. The Olympic Museum and speed skating track are in the centre of town, and there’s no shortage of ‘merch’ as my teen would say – adorned with the rings.
Shopping was surprisingly spectacular. (Remember your limits if you are coming from Canada!) Everything is quaint and covetable. From Bogner underlayers, to sweaters on which you can add personalized appliques, the clothing was on point. The best experience, though, was at Pure Placid. Marcy Miller began the business based on a love of aromatherapy after training alongside some heavy-hitters like the founder of Aveda. After her husband’s diagnosis with MS, she took more and more risks to up the game. And it worked. Her lotions and scrubs are now used for exclusive treatments in the Mirror Lake Inn Spa, and you will want to actually eat her candles. Made with soy and pure essence, there is currently an AirBNB experience on offer making these delicious candles. You’d better get there before she becomes even more famous though. She’s been discovered by Alibaba.
If you’re itching to ski a downhill course Whiteface is the place. (Seriously do it with Andrew and see if you can beat him. Double dare you.) Boasting the largest vertical east of the Rockies, the hill was friendly, accessible and a great size. Despite the potholes in the parking lot (our Traverse glided over them), there was ample parking. Drop-off areas were clearly marked and multiple lanes helped flow. The rental shop is directly inside and you can walk right through and hit the hill if you’re organized. Lockers for both skis and gear are available for a reasonable rate. The hill is grounded by two bases. The main one allows access to all levels of terrain, but mostly blue and black runs. It’s an easy ski or shuttle to the Bear Den Lodge, which is an ample, sprawling learning area. Sonya from House of Kerrs came well equipped with a selfie stick for this shot, while I didn’t even want to stop skiing for a second in order to get a photo!
I found the terrain levels to be on par with other New England resorts. The blues were easy cruisers with excellent grooming, and even the green runs offered an opportunity to experience wide tree-lined routes. Given time, conditions and varying levels of skiers I wasn’t able to test many black runs but those I did were only slightly more difficult than the blues. I hear that there are many steeps at Whiteface, so you may want to gear towards those.
Each lodge features a full-serve restaurant. You have great views of the mountain. The food was solid and the presentation wasn’t fussy.
The main lodge is a carnivore’s dream. Right outside sits a giant smoker that should be features on Diners Drive-ins and Dives. (We watch Food TV a lot). My husband would walk to Lake Placid if he knew how tender the brisket and pulled pork were. Tip: share a plate. Seriously.
There are probably more restaurants in Lake Placid than Olympic ring displays. My big warning is that there are next to NO cabs and ubers. After an impeccable dinner at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery the manager actually drove us back to the hotel, as there were zero other options. Pre-arrange your rides beforehand, or at the least, ask if a driver will be available before you decide not to drive. In summer, most restaurants would be a lovely walk, but in winter, and especially with kids, you need to plan ahead.
All I can say is WINGS. Wing night is Monday and you must go. 60 cents per wing, 6 flavours, and the four of us could not agree on what we liked best! They were all that good. For the record, I liked hot. Also, the peach/bacon pizza was one of the best I have ever tasted.
Big Slide Brewery
I am so lucky I don’t have food allergies. Or they are at least mild enough to fully ignore. Not the case for Claire at Drop of Golden Sun. Having to avoid all dairy for each meal was an eye-opener for me. Of all the restaurants we tried, Big Slide made her leave with the biggest smile – and nothing left on the plate! This farm-to-table joint is a must-visit. My flatbread was perfectly spiced.
I can’t believe this isn’t the super high-end restaurant. Perfection. Ambiance. Proximity and great service. Even if you aren’t staying here it’s a must. (Bring the karaoke microphone). Desserts were delicate, and being right on the lake is such a treat.
Everything in Lake Placid seems classy. You can order deep-fried, battered (delicious) pickles, and they come on a plate monogrammed with the pub logo. As they always should. But this town just GETS it.
If you are looking for some great skiing, a worldly resort and fab food, Lake Placid is your place.
Disclosure: I was hosted in order to write a review of Lake Placid, Whiteface and Mirror Lake Inn. All opinions are my own.