Roughing It Like a Rockefeller: An Escape to Lake Placid and Whiteface Lodge



“There’s just no way you can make Lake Placid a five-star town,” I heard someone say during one of my first days visiting. While it may be true that the former Olympic host is a bit rough around the edges (a quaint downtown by day turns into a sort of seedy nightlife adventure after hours), there’s one stately property that stands a few notches above the rest about a mile outside of town – the Whiteface Lodge. Here, you’re not likely to find any of the Can/Am youth hockey players who have a reputation for being rowdy and are the stuff of local legends when it comes to mischief (like late-night snowboarding down the stairs of a local hotel, perhaps). Instead, Whiteface is a decided departure from other hospitality haunts of the area, blending the region’s rugged natural beauty and outdoor offerings as an upscale, refined option.

Built in 2005, the lodge is rustic elegance at its best – the epitome of the Adirondack escapes that many city-dwelling socialites and wealthy families would take during the early 20th century, like the Vanderbilts, who called their lavish mountain havens “camps.” At these elevations, one could flee the stifling heat of urban living and cleanse their lungs with fresh, crisp mountain air. If the sweltering summer has you longing for a retreat like this (and the thought of indulging at an award-winning spa doesn’t hurt), then this all-suite resort and private residence club is for you. At a minimum, you’ll have a generously sized suite that boasts stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, a tile warmer beneath your toes in the bathroom, and beyond cozy leather chairs that provoke you to pull out the latest page-turner. Nothing makes me feel more at home than bubbly and baked goods – so I was immediately won over when I discovered the welcome bottle of chilled champagne and delectable handmade brownie waiting to be savored at the hearth of my personal fireplace.

The resort’s signature restaurant, KANU, is situated next to a bar and lounge area and is a beautiful rustic dining option that offers tasty bites like a homemade mozzarella and eggplant tapenade served on a sourdough crostini and a jumbo lump crab cake entrée with a lemon beurre blanc (one of the best versions of the dish that I’ve tasted anywhere). A knowledgable sommelier, Scott Waller, is on hand to sort out libations from a broad wine list, but perhaps more entertaining than the history behind your gewurztraminer is his technique in cigar lighting, an entrancing procedure you can witness during one of the resort’s cigar and cognac tastings, done hearthside at an outdoor lounge. For a more casual dinner and a taste of some locally brewed beer, journey downtown to the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, which resides next to Mirror Lake. Here you can sample dishes like Welsh Rarebit (a creamy cheese appetizer made with beer and five cheeses and served with sourdough for dipping) and homemade brews like Ubu Ale, an English strong ale which Bill Clinton is purported to have ordered to the White House.

Days are gorgeous in Lake Placid. The resort is a relatively easy walk from town, or guests can have the car service escort them to the local shopping, theater and dining options. Though the town is best known for its skiing and winter activities, summertime pursuits also abound. Guests that travel just a tad off of the resort’s site have access to the Canoe Club, where water pastimes like canoeing and kayaking are accessible and other games like volleyball, badminton, croquet, bocci ball and more are offered. If it’s a rainy day, don’t despair – a two-lane, ten-pin bowling alley and game room is situated on the lower level of Whiteface’s property, and a 54-seat movie theater boasts surround sound and show times throughout the day.

For the ultimate indulgence in the area, spend a day indoors rejuvenating in the spa. The Spa at Whiteface Lodge offers a menu of services inspired by the nature and beauty of the Adirondack region. For this reason, I chose to sample the Great Outdoors Maple Facial and Maple Butter Massage, which use B. Kamins products infused with ultra-hydrating Bio-Maple compounds, ingredients derived from the sap of the Canadian Maple tree. Throughout each treatment, I was aware of a heightened sense of feeling, whether due to the therapist’s gentle, preparatory touches before moving to deeper work, or the extreme softness of the bathrobes and sheets on the massage table. The magic of this spa is in small details like these and thoughtful services developed by the knowledgeable spa director, Diana Lagana (especially illustrated in an extended menu for moms-to-be, offering way more than the ho-hum pregnancy massage). If you’re in the market for an anti-aging treatment, you’d be smart to ask her advice – her own radiant complexion belies the fact that she’s a grandmother.

After a day of recreation, relaxation and good eating, decide if you’d like to stay in the lap of luxury and cozy up to the evening bonfire at Whiteface Lodge, or head to one of the local pubs, like Zig Zag (so named for Lake Placid’s bobsled heritage) where you can catch an open mic night featuring local (and barely recognizable) renditions of Johnny Cash and Oasis. Perhaps you can’t make Lake Placid a five star town – its character is a bit too gritty with the outdoors and athletes – but it all seems a whole lot more charming when you’re capping the evening off in your suite’s jetted Jacuzzi.

Tip: Keep an eye out on – the resort often promotes special deals there (i.e. seriously slashed rates on suites).

Whiteface Lodge
7 Whiteface Inn Lane
Lake Placid, NY 12946

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