For families looking for a lake getaway that's luxurious yet completely family-friendly, The Sagamore is a wonderful choice on spectacular Lake George in the foothills of New York's Adirondack Mountains. It is just shy of a four-hour drive from New York City and just over four hours from Boston.
Lake George has been regarded as a jewel of the Adirondacks for centuries. While on vacation in 1791, first U.S. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson penned a letter to his daughter. "Lake George is without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw,” he wrote. His words could have been written yesterday. Formed by glaciers and fed by pristine subterranean springs, the 32-mile lake remains so clean two and a half centuries later that many locals still use it for drinking water.
Today Lake George remains a summer playground; although the year-round population is less than four thousand residents, the summertime population can swell to over 50,000.
By the end of the 19th century, Lake George rivaled Newport and the Hamptons as a summer playground for gilded-age families as the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Whitneys, and the sprawling Sagamore was by far its most elegant retreat. Built in 1883, The Sagamore remains an homage to the Victorian era with its grand porticoes, buffed wood floors, Oriental rugs, mahogany bars, elaborate crystal chandeliers, and a grand, multi-tiered lawn that sweeps down to the lake.
There's a wide array of family-friendly amenities, from a seasonal outdoor pool and year-round, heated indoor pool to nature trails, a playground, tennis courts, and an enormous recreation center with indoor mini golf, basketball, pool, Ping Pong, video games, a loft cinema, and even an indoor wiffleball field. A supervised kids' club for children ages 4-12 runs in the morning during the summer and on holiday weekends during the school year. In the evening, families are invited to make s'mores around the outdoor firepit, or kids can catch a movie in the Rec loft.
Parents, meanwhile, will want to carve out quality time with a good book or a cocktail on the patio overlooking the lake. You can enjoy an Adirondack hot-stone massage at the spa, or rent a kayak, paddleboard or sailboat at the marina.
The atmosphere at The Sagamore is definitely upscale but not stuffy. While there's no firm dress code at the resort, you'll likely feel more comfortable dressed in casual attire during the day and then perhaps bring it up a notch in the evening. Smart casual attire is acceptable even for dinner at La Bella Vita, the dressiest of the resort's restaurants, and you'll definitely see many women in dresses and men in jackets. Kids can wear what they like during the day and for dinner, perhaps a collared shirt and khakis for boys, and either a dress or smart outfit for girls.
The Sagamore charges a $25-per-room-per-night resort fee, which covers valet parking, wi-fi access, access to the fitness room, and even a 90-minute lake cruise aboard The Morgan, the resort's 72-foot replica of a 19th-century touring vessel.
Best rooms: The Sagamore offers a variety of accommodations choices, from plush rooms and suites in the hotel to family-friendly lodge rooms with separate living and sleeping areas, kitchens, and views of the lake. These condo-like units are just a few minutes' walk from the main hotel and offer more space for a lower price. Multi-generational groups or large families can book connecting units in the same building.
Best season: Summer is peak season on Lake George, and a time to enjoy the lake at its prime, with water sports and cruises. Fall is a wonderful season for a weekend getaway with fewer crowds and lower prices. From early December through late May, the resort is open on weekends only. Always check The Sagamore's special offers for seasonal deals such as third or fourth night free.
Visited: October 2015
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