Whiteface is probably the biggest, most sophisticated ski mountain anywhere that does not have its own slopeslide lodging. That is because it is part of New York State's Adirondack Preserve. This means that you visit Lake Placid and ski Whiteface - it is a whole destination.
As a result, Whiteface is so much more than a ski mountain, even more than an Olympic ski mountain. It is a key piece in a total destination that is distinctive, endlessly fascinating, and enchanting in its way. Lake Placid, this small village which has become a capital of world-class athletic competition and training, exudes heritage, history, charm, and personality. It is a real place, a real community - granted, with a disproportionate number of children who are raised in an atmosphere which promotes their development as major athletes.
You become immersed in the Olympic tradition and the ethos of international sports competition. And regardless of whether you take advantage of the opportunities to to taste what it is like to ski, bobsled or skate on an Olympic course, you come away a greater appreciation for what those those athletes have tackled and accomplished. Just being here gives you a context, and forges a personal connection.
Lake Placid is aptly named – and in winter, exudes a Courier & Ives sweetness and charm. Its small Main Street offers quaint eateries, boutiques and shops, a movie theater, even some wonderful outlets like Bass.
Actually, most of Lake Placid village and the Main Street hugs not Lake Placid but Mirror Lake, including our hotel, the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. Picturesque does not even begin to describe how wonderful the setting is.
We arrive after dark (having taken a slight detour off the Northway to visit Ausable Chasm on our way to Lake Placid). Snow flurries are turning to serious snowflakes swirling in a billowing wind, as we pull up to the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, set quite literally on Mirror Lake. Its location on Main Street also means it is a short walk to just about everything you want to do in Lake Placid.
The Golden Arrow is warm, welcoming. We quickly discover that the Golden Arrow has the charm of an inn but the amenities of a resort - it even has a "nightclub" (or actually, a bar), a large and lovely indoor swimming pool (decorated with stunning murals, windows, and a painted ceiling, plus hot tubs and sauna), a large fitness center with big windows and a nice view and a fine-dining restaurant, Generations, that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and pleasant lounges and sitting areas tucked here and there. It even offers a "Kids Night Out" program (Thursdays-Saturdays), has allergen-free floors and pet-friendly rooms.
After a day traveling or being out on the slopes, there is nothing better than settling into a comfortable room - ours has a working fireplace, a kitchenette, a king bed and leather sofa-chair and marble bathroom. The decor is lovely.
The fellows are in a room with two Queen beds - they don't have a fireplace or a kitchenette, but they have a balcony that opens out to the lake. Stunning.
There are lovely sitting areas as well. The Lobby lounge is particularly beautiful, with floor-ceiling windows that overlook the lake and a fireplace and comfy sofas. there is also a small mezzanine lounge with game tables and computer - a quiet place to read.
The personable atmosphere at the Golden Arrow that goes beyond the charm and comfort of the place As you discover it, you find it is ecologically sensitive - It has a green roof (snowy in winter, but I can see greenery poking out)
But there is more, as we discover - I am impressed to see how eco-friendly the hotel is, something I am more and more conscious about when I travel (it demonstrates social consciousness and also provides a model that guests can bring back to their homes and communities). There is even a paper bag in our room specifically for recyclables and a package of shampoo instead of a plastic bottle. The hotel has solar panels and a green roof (it is covered in snow now but I see some branches poking out), and we learn that the pool, also, is eco-friendly.
Several resorts in the area offer indoor pools, but the Golden Arrow’s is probably the only one that was recently renovated with the environment in mind – instead of chlorine, they use bromine, a less environmentally harsh, but equally effective agent. They also replaced the decking at the pool with flagstone from a local area quarry.
In fact, the Golden Arrow is Lake Placid’s only green hotel and one of only a few hotels in the nation to receive Audubon International’s Platinum Five Leaf Eco-Rating. The hotel even rewards its guests who travel green with VIP parking for hybrid vehicles and a green gift bag for those travelers who arrive by foot, bicycle, cross country ski, or hybrid.
In fact, Chef David Hunt of Generations, the hotel's fine dining restaurant (that is to say it is casual in atmosphere but the menu and preparations are appropriate for a fine dining restaurant), actually grows herbs on the green roof (late spring chive omelets and such), as the seasons allow.
Hunt, a Lake Placid native with 30 years experience as a chef, is a leader in the "farm to fork" movement. He prepared the meal for and hosted the premiere party for PBS’s documentary called “Small Farm Rising.” Under his leadership, Generations is a member of the Green Restaurant Association, and has partnered with Adirondack Harvest to serve farm fresh and local organic food.
We get to experience Generations for ourselves at dinner.
A backroom has a stunning view overlooking Mirror Lake, the main room has a fireplace and lots of wood, and is lit in such a way to be casual and comfortable for families, relaxing after a day outside.
The menu, preparation and presentation are absolutely four-star, fitting for the fine dining restaurants of the best resorts. Chef Hunt, who is a Lake Placid native, offers some wonderful surprises in flavor combinations, textures, presentations. And the menu is surprisingly varied, with depth as well as breadth. (His sous chef Ed Dayelle is from Long Island.)
Since the Golden Arrow is so “green” he bases his menu each season on what is fresh and available from local farms. Fledging Crow Farm in Keeseville, NY, has set aside a section of their farm where they grow vegetables strictly for Chef Dave and Generations. Bison, a favorite of the chef, comes from the Edgley Farm right in Lake Placid.
The menu also features goat cheese from Asgard farm, a black Angus burger from the Kilcoyne Farm and local maple syrup.
Adirondack trout filet is on the menu, which is truly Adirondack trout when it is fresh in season, but in winter, the trout is brought in; it is sauteed with seasoned cornmeal, and finished with white wine and lemon butter ($17).
We start with a fabulous clam chowder done with bacon so has a smokey flavor and a French onion soup served with incredibly thick layer of cheese – wonderfully done. and three different kinds of caramelized onions.
The New York Strip Loin ($21 for 9 oz, $26 for 12 oz) was scrumptious and perfectly prepared.
The hot rolls are organic and delectable, with an amazing texture and flavor.
Desserts are amazing – a pumpkin cheesecake (to die for), a chocolate ganache.
Generations is a restaurant where families can feel comfortable and relax after a day on the slopes, and yet enjoy a meal to satisfy a gourmet at the fussiest restaurant at Beaver Creek. Notably, the prices are moderate (even low for a hotel), the portions are large, the quality is amazing.
Generations also serves breakfast and lunch, so we return in the morning for breakfast. Again, there is an extensive and imaginative menu - portions are large (surprising because of the quality of the food and moderate prices), presentation is extremely pleasing. My three-egg omelette with cheese and spinach is sensational; there are delightful selections like Cinnamon Brioche French toast, $9. If you have a major appetite, go for the Golden Arrow Mountaineer: 6 oz strip steak, 2 eggs, 2 buttermilk pancakes.
Generations, 2559 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY 12946, 518-837-5052, 800-582-5540, www.golden-arrow.com/the-resort/dining.
The eco-friendly focus of the Golden Arrow is on the leading edge of environmentally conscious design, alternative energy sources and in-house waste reduction and yet, offers the cozy comfort of an old-world Bavarian style retreat.
In this day and age, it is remarkable that it has remained independent and family owned, with three generations of the Holderied family involved in its operations
Winfried and Stefanie Holderied came from Germany, settled first in New York City, then relocated to Lake Placid in the early 1960s. When they bought the Golden Arrow Motor Inn in 1974 it had just 36 rooms, but the Holderied’s first massive renovation transformed the space with additional floors and a vastly different layout. As the resort expanded, so did the Holderied family. By 1979, Winfried and Stefanie had four children – Christl, Peter, Heidi and Jenny.
When Lake Placid hosted the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, the Holderieds, all native German speakers, hosted the Austrian ski team. The three oldest children took time off from college to help out, acting as hostesses, diplomats and tour guides – even assisting “Bildzeitung,” a German newspaper covering the games. Additionally, the resort served as ABC’s headquarters during the games.
As the resort continued to merge its old-world, European aesthetic with a modern hotel featuring tailored guest experiences (such as allergen-free rooms), the family began to look at ways to make the day-to-day operations more environmentally friendly. Once a part of the Best Western hotel group, the family broke with the chain in 2006 to embark on a new, environmentally conscious resort plan.
In 2009, after months of renovations and upgrades, the Golden Arrow became the first and only resort in the United States to achieve a Five Green Leaf rating from the Audubon Society for its green initiatives, which include guest recycling programs and alternative energy sources like solar panels and green roof.
Today, the second generation oversees the day-to-day operations, marketing and maintenance on the resort. Jenny is General Manager as well as overseeing marketing, while Peter maintains the resort. Peter’s daughters also work at the resort – Natasha at Generations and Andrea as head of hotel beautification – representing the third generation to continue in the family business. Heidi recently left the Golden Arrow to go back to school, but her two sons – Alex and Peter – work at the resort during school holidays.
The family motto: We overlook nothing except the lake.
The Golden Arrow regularly offers value-added packages. For ski season, these include:
Mid-Week In Season Package: Available from January 2 to March 17, 2013, arrive Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday for two nights and get a third night’s stay free. Includes accommodations in the Golden Arrow’s deluxe village-side rooms. Rates are $119 per person, per night; solo skiers start at $199 per night. Includes a one-day, all-access pass to Whiteface Mountain.
Super Sundays at Whiteface Mountain: Available January 6, February 3, March 10, and April 7, 2013, arrive on Sunday, ski Whiteface stay the night ($69 per person, $109 for solo skiers).
‘Ski the Face’ In Season Add-On: For the sole skier amongst a traveling family or for those who don’t want to commit to a day of skiing or riding before seeing the forecast, the Ski the Face Add-On at Whiteface Mountain is an easy tack-on for a last-minute day at the mountain. Rates are $99 per adult, $59 per child 12 and under; includes an all-access pass to Whiteface Mountain and breakfast at Generations.
Golden Arrow also offers a Kids Night Out program, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, 6-9 pm.
Golden Arrow resort also offers a Total Olympic Experience package as well as Golden Additions which let guests tailor their itineraries, whether adding on cross-country ski, snowshoe, or exploring Lake Placid’s historic Olympic sites.
The Golden Arrow also offers pet-friendly lodging ($50/week charge) though not on the allergen-free floors.
Across the street from the Golden Arrow is where a free shuttle bus picks up and takes you to Whiteface Mountain if you choose not to drive - a great convenience when not all the family is skiing on the same schedule.
The next day, after skiing at Whiteface Mountain and having the thrill of the Bobsled Experience (see story), we return to Lake Placid to enjoy more of its unique attractions.
In fact, the Golden Arrow is walking distance to most everything in Lake Placid. And there is so much to do and explore in the area, in any season, from the Toboggan Chute, Olympic Skating Oval, Olympic Museum, Olympic Sports Complex, High Gorge Falls, Wildlife Rescue Center (see story)
Lake Placid, NYS's winter resort, where you ski and bobsled like an Olympian and slideshow
Hiking Ausable Chasm, natural wonder in New York State's Adirondack Mountains and slideshow
Karen Rubin, National Eclectic Travel Examiner
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