As excitement builds for this winter's Olympic Games in Russia, get a taste of the action at Lake Placid, New York.
Twice host for the winter Olympics, Lake Placid is the opposite of Sochi when it comes to crowds. Small hotels, boutiques, and burger shops line the lakeshore leading to the Olympic Conplex. Active year-round, the 1980 arena is gearing up for the 2014 games to be shown indoors.
Set in the magnificent Adirondack State Park, the combination of sport and spa has never been better. Colorful autumn foliage and crisp mountain air added to our visit. There are thrilling rides on the Olympic luge, and the arial gondola to Whiteface Mountain's ski complex. And hikers are out in force.
Lake Placid's Whiteface Lodge recently expanded its world-class spa. Tucked into a rustically luxurious structure, the nine-room sanctuary has hair and nail salons, offers a wide range of treatments plus group exerise, fitness equipment, and a healthy option cafe. Featuring skin care by Naturopathica made in New York, the spa menu includes a maple butter body wrap, apple cider masque, outdoorsman facial, and hot stones massage. Packages are available for a half-day and full-day.
Designed like historic Great Camps that put the area on the map in the 1880s, the all-suite resort is one-of-a-kind. Entering the wooden porte-cochere is a sensory pleasure: spacious, intimate lounges, fireplaces perfuming the air, this is mountain living on a grand scale.
Massive logs fame the main dining room, Kanu, rising three stories in a style of architecture that defines Adirondack craftsmanship. Stone fireplaces warm the room, and a wood-fired oven produces regional specialties as well as pizza. Culinary excellence reached new peaks at a harvest dinner created by executive chef David Haick and his team. Sourced from local farms, the menu included a bone-in beef tenderloin, butternut squash puree on toasted chanterelle muchrooms, and baked Scotch egg with salad. The hay-smoked Nova Scotia oysters were worthy of legendary meals at Marjorie Merriweather Post's nearby camp. Dessert was apple sorbet, wines and beer from New York.
Ideal for families, the Lodge has informal dining as well as a kitchen in every suite. With just 94 spacious suites spread on three floors, the center garden provides an ice skating rink and indoor/outdoor swimming pools. The spa makes up for its underground location with a warm walkway to the pools.(Future plans call for an adult pool where you can swim laps.) And there's a theater for daily screenings of movies, complete with popcorn.
As night came on, couples relaxed in the whirlpools, steam rising into the crisp air. The Adirondacks are about the outdoors, and we could hike numerous trails on the Lodge grounds. Also recommended for nature lovers is the interpretive center at Paul Smith's College of the Adirondacks. Historic artifacts add interest at the Adirondack Museum.
Cruises from the Whiteface Lodge beach club provide not just scenic thrills but an introduction to the people who live in this protected wilderness. The Adirondack Mountains, ablaze with color, extend from north of Albany almost to the Canadian border near Montreal.
Back in 1980, the U.S. ice hockey team beat the Russians here.
Lake Placid is still a perfect place to celebrate.
Whiteface Ldge has daily rates that include breakfast buffet and use of spa facilities. Call 800-903-4045; www.thewhitefacelodge.com