My wife Denise and I, along with our twin girls Dominique and Danielle, escaped the New York City metro area for a few July days of relaxation at The Sagamore on Lake George at Bolton Landing in the Adirondacks. Our destination was bout a 4-hour drive straight up the New York State Thruway and the Northway.
The Sagamore is a 70-acre, 350-room year-round luxury resort located on a private island in the heart of the Adirondacks and has something for everyone. Whether it's activities you want or peace and serenity, you will have plenty to choose from at The Sagamore. When it comes to vacationing along Lake George, there is The Sagamore and then there is everyplace else.
The following is how our family of four spent our time at The Sagamore. Hopefully it will give you an idea of what is offered and what to expect on a typical day.
We arrive a little after 3:00. Our lodge consisted of two rooms, two televisions, a terrace with a view of Lake George, a fireplace, a kitchen, air conditioning and a spacious bathroom. A wraparound sofa makes for comfortable television viewing, so much so that Denise has placed it on her "things to get" list when we get back home.
The accommodations met all our needs as it offered enough room to stretch and relax and allowed late sleepers peace and privacy. A kitchen is a must when traveling with children since they seem to get hungry and thirsty at most any hour. The fireplace was a treat and something we don't get to enjoy at home. I particularly liked the terrace overlooking Lake George, as it was the perfect place to enjoy a morning coffee or an evening glass of wine.
As Denise and I unpack, the girls get busy putting on their bathing suits. They want to go in the outdoor pool. I remind them that there is not an outdoor pool, only an indoor pool, and if they want to go swimming out doors they'll have to do so in the lake. They are unfamiliar with lake swimming, having developed their fins in pools, bays, and oceans. They are excited about the venture. I then tell them if they want to go swimming, they'll have to help with the unpacking. They agree and immediately attack the suitcase and start placing the clothes in the drawers. I proceed to bring the rest of the stuff in from the car. The Sagamore offered their help but I hate having others do for me when I can do just as well. Yes, even on vacation. Note: If your children offer to unpack the clothes, let them watch TV instead because they will put all their stuff in the top drawers and all your stuff in the bottom drawers. You may think it cute to watch them help with the chores but by the second day you've had enough bending to the bottom drawer to find matching socks. Do it yourself and you'll be guaranteed the top drawer. It'll be worth the effort.
We head to the lake with pail and shovels. The swimming area was small and enclosed by a deck and was right beside the boat dock. I was somewhat disappointed by the offering. There was not many beach chairs available right in front of the swimming area and for a parent that can be a big problem. I had to sit down a ways and was a bit of a struggle to keep a close eye on my 7-year-olds. There is always a lifeguard present, plus my girls are strong swimmers, so I really had no worry at all, but you still would like to have them right in front of you.
After a few hours they were looking for new adventure. When I asked what they had in mind, they declared, "The indoor pool!" So on this beautiful summer day in the Adirondacks, we head inside for the indoor pool. They enjoyed this as much as the lake. In the corner was a whirlpool, which they both loved. Many hotels and resorts we've visited do not allow children to go into the whirlpool so this was a big treat for them. In addition to that, there was a ping pong table and a shuffleboard to enjoy.
It was getting late and our stomachs were calling for dinner. We returned to the room to shower and dress, which for some reason always takes much longer than I allot for. The clock was nearing 8:45. Lucky for us, Sagamore's Mr. Brown's Pub serves food till 11:00 PM. Mr. Brown's is extremely nice, clean, and child friendly, not at all like the pubs I'm familiar with back home. And the view from the terrace over-looking the lake was lovely. We all ate very well.
Back at the lodge, we lay back and fall asleep to the Yankees vs. the Power Puff Girls. I want to watch the Yankees. Dominique and Danielle want the Power Puff Girls. What did we decide? Well, I had to find out if the Yankees won from the next morning's newspaper.
I overslept and missed the 7:00 AM fitness walk. Each morning there is offered a 3 ½ mile fitness walk "at an invigorating pace" through Green Island and into the town of Bolton. Somehow I managed to miss the 7:00 AM fitness walk each day. I think it had something to do with wanting to sleep instead. There is a second 3 ½ mile fitness walk "at an invigorating pace" later in the day, which I made sure to miss too. I'm 45 and a one-time athlete and I can't bring myself to the realization that walking actually is exercise. I still see myself in my youth of running for miles with the wind blowing through my hair. Sadly, those days are behind me (both the running and the hair.) Yes, I know I should start exercising again and a walk "at an invigorating pace" would probably be a great way to start. Next year when I come back to the Sagamore, I'm going to take those 3 ½ mile A.M. walks. Really I will. I have it written down in my "What To Do Next Year" diary.
I did get up for breakfast, though. Danielle and I quietly got dressed and let mom and Dominique continue their sleep. We were very pleasantly greeted by the hostess and led to our table in the Sagamore Dining Room. The view of Lake George was calming and peaceful. The food from the Adirondack buffet was both plentiful and delicious. What I liked most about the breakfast was they served till 11:00 A.M. Denise likes to start her day slowly and not having to rush to breakfast each morning is a welcome relief. On vacations I usually have to bring a tea and a pilfered danish back to the room for Denise since she rarely makes it to breakfast, but with servings till 11:00 at the Sagamore Dining Room this wasn't necessary. Plus, even if 11:00 A.M was too early, Denise could have taken advantage of the room service.
After breakfast, Danielle and I checked back with the two sleepers just to make sure they were up and about. When they were ready to head for breakfast, Danielle and I went to play a round of miniature golf. I attempted to pass down my vast miniature golfing knowledge to my daughter but she was in too much of a rush to hit and rehit and run on to the next hole. My plea of patience and timing were met with "I know," "C'mon," and "Hurry up!" I suggested she wait for her ball to stop rolling before hitting again but she would have none of it. By now it was obvious to me that while I was in charge at breakfast, Danielle was in charge at miniature golf. She was making the rules and I thought it best to let her.
Nearby the mini golf were six championship tennis courts and one indoor court. Also inside was a racquetball court. I was angry with myself for not bringing my racquets until I remembered that I don't play either game.
We peaked in the game room and Danielle quickly felt my pockets for quarters. I had none but she made sure I saw the change machine. Cashing in the singles I had, I gave her a fistful of quarters and watched as she ran to the nearest auto racing video game. In the game she was hitting more trees and guardrails than missing but it didn't seem to bother her. She just wanted to go fast and heaven help anything that got in her way. Using up her allotment of quarters, Danielle and I headed back to the room to meet up with Denise and Dominique. The twins wanted to go to "Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom", an amusement park/water park, about 20 minutes away. It was on our list of things to do so we loaded the girls into the car and head out to Great Escape. On the way to Great Escape, we drive through the town of Lake George, which includes lots of shops, restaurants, hotels, water activities, and shops? Touristy, but clean. There were a lot of shops there, too. Did I mention the shops?
We made it to Great Escape and planned on spending a few hours. Five hours later the girls still wanted more but we had to say no. Imagine that: parents saying "no" to their children. It's so "last century." Anyway, an hour and a half after we put our foot down and said we had to go, we finally left. The girls had a great time, as did the parents. The rides were exciting, clean, and safe and the staff all friendly. On the way back to Sagamore, we passed a drive-in movie theater. I hadn't been to a drive-in movie since I hid in the trunk to see a "Planet of the Apes" marathon decades ago. (Good gosh, was that really that...long... ago?) If we had time later in the week, I would try to get us to the Drive-in.
On the ride back I could tell we were all good and tired so to make things easy I decided to make it a pizza pie night. We stopped in Bolton right outside Green Island and the Sagamore and picked up a pizza to bring back to the room. While waiting for the pizza, we walked across the street for some Ben and Jerry's.
Ice cream before pizza? Sure, why not? We're on vacation!
Once back at the room we ordered a movie and sat back with our pizza. We all ended up falling asleep in front of the TV.
I overslept and missed the 7:00 A.M. fitness walk, the one with the 3 ½ hour fitness walk "at an invigorating pace." I missed the one offered later in the day as well. Danielle and I made it to breakfast and I taught her how to place the napkin on her lap when dining at such a swell restaurant. After breakfast, we went back to the room just as Denise and Dominique were making their way to for their morning meal. We decided to meet an hour later by the lake. Meanwhile, Danielle and I strolled the grounds. I was taken by the Sagamore landscape and gardens. I checked on more than one plant for its nametag, taking a mental picture of how it would look around our house at home. I lied to myself more than once, thinking, "Yeah, I'll plant this exact garden on the north side of the house as soon as I get back." I really believed it at the time. We met up with the other half of the family and made plans for the afternoon. At 12:30, we would enjoy a buffet lunch while cruising the lake on The Morgan, Sagamore's replica of a 19th century touring vessel. Until then, the girls and I would go back to the game room while Denise would scout out the Fitness Center and Spa for an afternoon of relaxation.
The Morgan was a delightful experience. Casual and relaxing, the cruise was smooth and the food plentiful. With a running narration, one learns much of the history of the area as well as enjoying its beauty. Lake George spread wide surrounded by the rolling Adirondacks made for an idyllic trip on a perfect day. The girls were excited to see some of the locals jumping from the rocks into the lake. The girls waved and the kids waved back. I imagined how absolutely gorgeous the ride must be with the autumn foliage later in the year. It really was an eyeful. As we returned to dock an hour and a half later, I was able to view the Sagamore from a distance for the first time and fully appreciate its magnificence. It really stands out like a jewel amidst the trees.
Upon our return, the girls were itching to get back into the water while Denise had her eyes set on a relaxing body massage. I grabbed a book and the girls theirs suits as we made it back to the lake. We left Denise in the room as she leafed through the wide selection of massages and treatments offered at the spa. She would find us later.
While Denise was at the spa, the girls and I filled our time at the lake swimming and building castles in the sand. The girls became interested in a boy fishing off the dock and were offered a few casts. Without immediate results, the girls quickly became bored and were soon doing cannonballs back into the lake. The lake was busy with activity as I watched plenty of water skiing, parasailing, kayaking, boating, and scuba divers heading out for the day. All this is available at the Sagamore but I was very content in simply sitting back and enjoy my girls enjoying their youth. While they built a castle in the sand, I finally got some time to read my book, which was soon resting on my belly as I took a much un-needed nap.
Two hours later, the girls and I found Denise enjoying a Pina Colada on The Veranda over looking Lake George. She had the Swedish Massage and from the relaxed look on her face, I could tell it worked. She highly recommended it, but I'm not the type who likes to be touched. She can't believe I don't like massages. "I would have one every day if I could," she murmurs.
I ordered a Cream and Kaluha for myself and a couple Shirley Temples for the girls. My Cream and Kaluha was so delicious I was able to convince myself that it was good for me. I think the girls enjoyed the calm too as we softly talked about school, summer plans, and favorite cartoons. I asked if they wanted to try some shrimp, oysters, clams, or sushi from the raw bar but they decided to stick to the bowl of peanuts on the table.
There was much activity all about but very serene as well. Everyone seemed busy pursuing fun at a casual pace, and we kept ourselves busy simply watching their pursuit. After an hour of people watching, Denise suggested we go back to the room to clean up and plan for dinner. I wanted to stay until I saw an ascot. Denise thought that to be a fine idea. A few minutes later we spotted one on an elderly and very proper gentleman and we then gathered our things and headed back to the room.
Denise and I considered going for some elegant dining at The Trillium, offering Contemporary American Cuisine and a world class wine selection. Children must be 7 years of age to dine at this outlet and jackets and collared shirts are required for gentlemen 13 years of age and older. The girls just made the cutoff mark, but they seemed to have gained a second wind and were back to running on all cylinders of activity.
We decided to go back to Mister Brown's Pub for the relaxed and casual atmosphere.
After dinner, we took a walk into town for more Ben and Jerry's. The girls got a taste of the Cookie Dough ice cream from the other night and were eager to get back for more. I couldn't really blame them.
It's our last day. I woke up in time for the 7:00 AM fitness walk, the one with the 3 ½ hour fitness walk "at an invigorating pace," but decided not to go. Instead I made myself a cup of coffee and watched the rising sun from the terrace. Much to my surprise, Dominique and Danielle were soon awake, followed by Denise. As they slowly greeted the day, I quickly packed up as much as I could. Left were just a few odds and ends I could get to after breakfast. We went together for our final breakfast and before I could remind the girls the proper way to place the napkin on their lap, they had already done so. They were really getting the hang of the Sagamore.
After breakfast we went on a Surrey ride, a leisurely 15-minute ride around the island in a horse-drawn carriage. We met a couple from Ohio who were just arriving. They too were impressed with the beauty, elegance, and serenity supplied by the Sagamore. We told them they would surely enjoy their stay.
As Denise was checking out, I leafed through a brochure of the Sagamore. Though I felt our days were busy and full, I saw that there was much more the Sagamore had to offer. Their nearby award-winning 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course is of championship quality. Their fitness center and exercise classes are popular and always in use, but never crowded. There are many many water sports and activities nearby, ranging from scuba diving the depths of Lake George to parasailing high above it. There are tennis courts, hiking trails and bike trails, horseback riding, a Chef for a Day program, yoga classes, and a huge spa to meet your every need.
The Sagamore also offers a children's activity group called the Teepee Club where children can create puppets, jewelry and crafts, or play miniature golf, go swimming, go on a picnic, meet other children, go on a scavenger hunt, nature walks and so much more. And they can play in the 18-foot teepee. There is a half/day morning program (9AM - noon), a full day program (9AM - 4PM) and an evening program (5PM- 9PM). So if you need free time to play a round of golf, a game of tennis, to get that massage, or to try parasailing, The Teepee Club is a great escape for you and the kids.
It is hard not to become spoiled by all that is offered at The Sagamore. Everything is first rate and top of the line. Of course, the price will reflect that. When it comes to the finest at Lake George, it's The Sagamore.
For more information, check out their website at www.thesagamore.com.