For parents of school-age children, the recent 16-day Christmas break may have felt like the longest in history. The mercury was on a wild ride with temps dipping from a low of minus 8 degrees (way too cold to play outside) to a high of 56 (usually accompanied by rain). It was the perfect storm (pun not intended, really) for a case of serious cabin fever.
Greek Peak Mountain Resort knows a thing or two about preventing cabin fever. This is what I'm counting on as we pull up to the grand porte-cochère at Hope Lake Lodge for the final three days of the mega-break. It's a bitter cold day, but I'm not worried. Greek Peak will keep us entertained no matter what Mother Nature dishes out.
Hope Lake Lodge
I’m staying at Hope Lake Lodge with my husband and eleven-year old son for a weekend ski trip. The Lodge's Northwoods-style decor begins in the high ceilinged lobby and carries through the rest of the resort where hardly a detail deviates from the theme. The always bustling lobby serves as the hub and social center at the lodge. Here you’ll find the check-in and concierge desks, the Acorn Grill serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual environment, the Bobcat lounge for cocktails and light fare, a ski storage area and the glorious two-sided floor to ceiling stone fireplace. Family-friendly activities take place day and evening to prevent the kids from getting bored when parents want to take a break from skiing and the many other activities on offer.
Hope Lake Lodge isn’t ski-in/ski-out, but it's superb location across the road from the ski area and only several hundred yards from the lifts means you can be on the slopes 10 minutes after breakfast. A convenient shuttle runs continuously every 10-15 minutes if you'd just assume skip walking with all your ski gear or eliminate the hassle of parking.
Guest Room at Hope Lake Lodge
Guest room 525, a quiet corner-unit Ledge Rock Suite, was spacious for our family of three and will accommodate up to six persons. Families will appreciate storage hooks and nooks, plus closets with thoughtful features like laundry baskets and buckets with broom and mop. If you crave the comforts of a home kitchen, you’ll appreciate full-size appliances like the flat top range with oven, microwave, sink, dishwasher and refrigerator/freezer. Everything we needed was tucked away in the efficient counter space – paper towels, hand soap, dishwasher detergent, toaster, coffee maker, even salt and pepper shakers – I was hard pressed to come up with any basic supplies that had been left out of the lineup.
In the bathroom you'll find a shower/tub combo with clothes drying line and lots of shelving for your bath and shower products. The living room features a flat screen TV perched on a corner gas stone fireplace. The entire space had an upscale yet functional and practical look and feel, from the tiled floors that made sense in the entranceway, bath and kitchen areas to the durable and attractive carpeting in the rest of the space. Complementary Wi-Fi access is available in all the guest rooms.
Cascades Indoor Waterpark at Hope Lake Lodge
The 41,000 square foot Cascades Indoor Waterpark was THE place to ride out the frigid Friday night, according to our eleven year-old. The park is just the right size for giving kids some freedom while still being able to keep an eye on them from your lounge chair. While there are water features for every age, older kids and major thrill seekers may find the park a bit tame for their liking. Parents will appreciate the amenities at this resort that is family-friendly all the way to its core – racks of life jackets, towels, a co-ed family locker area with private changing rooms and well-trained life guards that make safety a top priority. Parents be warned: kids can't resist the bright colors and dizzying sounds of the Starlight Arcade situated (geniusly!) at the entrance to the waterpark.
Skiing at Greak Peak
But what we're really here to do is ski. The shuttles delivers us steps from the ticket windows and lifts and we're off and running. It's a sunny but crisp morning with outstanding snow conditions and we're pumped for the day! Greek Peak Mountain Resort is a mountain that has a much bigger feel than its 952 feet of vertical, 220 skiable acres and varied terrain. The new Visions Express Quad, unique to Central New York ski areas, features a conveyor system that speeds the loading process for a short and comfortable trip up the mountain.
"Skiing is like a dance" my instructor Jim tells me during my two-hour private lesson. It's a well-known ski quote but it's only beginning to make sense to me now. After 20 years of mediocre skiing ability I'm intent upon improving my skills; my goal for the '13-'14 ski season is to be comfortable and confident on the intermediate runs. Aside from being a top-notch instructor, Jim is my personal mountain ambassador. He tours me all over the mountain, pointing out lifts and trails and giving me a history lesson. My Favorite trail? Take chairs 3 and 4 to Marathon and Castor and you'll be rewarded with pine forests and few trail mates.
Après-Ski at Greek Peak Mountain Resort
A ski weekend is not just about hurtling down the hill for our family. It’s also about having fun together when the lifts close. There are ski resorts out there where the après-ski options for families are dismal. When the sun goes down at Greek Peak? The fun is just getting started! Many trails are lit for night skiing. We headed over to the Adventure Center for other varieties of downhill fun. Riding the Mountain Coaster at twilight was the best of both worlds - the forest was all lit up but there was still a sliver of daylight on the horizon. It's a cross between an alpine slide and a traditional roller coaster; the rider controls the speed up to 30 MPH. Up, up and up you go (just relax for this part) and when you reach the top you'll soar for a mile down a steel track with rollers, banked turns and a few thrilling surprises. The coaster met our adrenaline rush needs but we still had to check out the tubing park. We think it's one of the most well-constructed and safest tubing parks we've seen with it's covered conveyor-style lift, adequate lighting and safety-minded attendants.
Waterfalls Spa at Hope Lake Lodge
Sunday morning I practically skipped to the 5,500 square foot Waterfalls Spa for my 75-minute hot stone massage. But due to a last-minute scheduling conflict there was no massage therapist available to perform my service. The spa director executed exceptional service recovery and I was on the treatment table receiving a Waterfalls Signature Facial within an hour of my original appointment time.
The spa features 12 treatment spaces including a hair salon with manicure and pedicure stations, a balneotherapy room, treatment rooms and two-person VIP suites with private shower, fireplace, sauna, dual treatment tables and a two-person Trautwein vibrational hydrotherapy tub. The color palette in the spa is inspired by nature: chocolate browns, soft greens and light wood floors lend a rustic feel. Many of the treatment rooms have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the resort. If you prefer a darker cave-like environment, like me, that option exists too.
There are no locker room facilities at Waterfalls Spa; your entire spa experience takes place within your private treatment room. Treatment rooms are multi-purpose or interconnecting so guests don't have to step into the hallway between treatments. Each treatment room is decked out with ceiling mounted chromotherapy panels that bathe the room in energizing or relaxing color. There is a beautiful light-filled relaxation lounge that functions primarily as a space to wait for your therapist and treatment area to be ready.
If You Go
Don't miss Trax Pub & Grill. It has all the trappings of a well-loved ski haunt: crowd-pleasing live music, lively bar scene and mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas (Philly Con Carne was our favorite), but it's received a striking upgrade and has been transformed into a modern yet rustic hangout that exudes warmth.
To learn more about Greek Peak Mountain Resort and Hope Lake Lodge, click here.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer and guests were provided with complementary overnight accommodations, lift tickets, lessons, passes to the adventure center and waterpark access. While it did not influence this review, Examiner.com believes in full disclosure.