A Winter Retreat in New York’s Adirondacks

February 28, 2018 Updated: March 6, 2018

Full confession: Even though I’m a fitness-obsessed city dweller, I don’t ski or participate in any winter sports. A recent invitation from the Lake George’s Gore Mountain Ski Resort in the Adirondack Mountains to experience their adult weekend advanced ski clinic got me thinking about a romantic winter retreat as a surprise Valentine’s Day gift for my boyfriend, who is an advanced skier.

With an itinerary that included the Gore Mountain ski clinic, a two-night stay at the historic Sagamore Resort on Green Island, and other activities—including the annual winter carnival and ice festival—we set off in our car for an upstate New York adventure.

Newly fallen snow made our Friday evening arrival at The Sagamore very festive. We turned off a lakeside road and headed across a bridge in a snowy mist to reach the resort, situated on the shores of Lake George.

Opened in 1883 as an exclusive resort community for wealthy vacationers primarily from New York and Philadelphia, The Sagamore was destroyed twice by fire—in 1893 and 1914. After it was fully restructured in 1930, it continued to attract a well-heeled clientele, proving that its legacy is its unique setting and deluxe hospitality. In 1983, the resort was purchased by new owners who supervised its restoration and inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

After admiring the panoramic view from the balcony of our suite, we headed downstairs for dinner at La Bella Vita restaurant, which overlooks the lake. We enjoyed excellent Italian specialties like veal scallopini with wild mushrooms.

Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, Gore Mountain is the largest ski center in the Lake George region. It boasts 119 trails over four peaks, the sixth-greatest vertical drop in the East Coast region, 14 ski lifts, and an eight-passenger gondola. Any type of outdoor adventurer, at any level, will be satisfied, from alpine skier to cross-country skier to snowshoer.

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Gore Mountain’s Northwoods gondola. (Gore Mountain)

Ski clinic, resort tour

The next morning, we got up early since my boyfriend had to drive an hour to the ski clinic location. I took two fitness classes which are part of the hotel’s daily activity schedule for guests. The rest of my day was devoted to hotel tours, which are available for guests.

After a tour of the property, I joined executive sous chef Sean McDermott and other guests for a comprehensive tour of the kitchen facilities. This included a stop at the pastry kitchen where pastry chef Keisha Sanderson Treasure showed us how to dip strawberries in melted chocolate and let us sample freshly baked cookies. Next, we had a cooking demonstration and wine sampling by executive chef Adam Savage, who prepared ricotta gnocchi accompanied by sautéed spinach, pancetta, and wild mushrooms. Children visiting the hotel can enjoy a Saturday afternoon movie or an arts and crafts hour.

According to my boyfriend, the mountain clinic was terrific, with plenty of time for skiers to hone their skills on glades, bumps, and groomers. The fee included lift tickets, all meals, video analysis, feedback from the instructor, equipment discussions, and lots of time on the ski hills. All this was topped off with a wine and cheese party.

That evening, we were invited to dine at the Merrill Magee Inn, a four-acre property located in the small historic town of Warrensburg. The restaurant features a seasonal farm-to-table menu, with ingredients from locally sourced purveyors and growers and is expertly managed by award-winning executive chef Richard Brousseau. His phyllo-wrapped maple crème brûlée is an outstanding variation on a classic French dessert.

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The Sagamore Resort’s pastry chef Keisha Sanderson Treasure. (Isabelle Kellogg)

Other local attractions

On Sunday, after an early checkout from The Sagamore, we stopped to watch a snowman-making contest—one of the many activities during the month-long February celebration of the Lake George winter carnival. Next stop was at the Hyde Collection, a museum located in a historic house with a distinguished collection of art featuring Old Masters, 19th-century European and American art, and modern and contemporary art.

Distilleries and breweries are plentiful in this region and worth investigating if you have the extra time. Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery in Queensbury makes single-batch spirits in a renovated horse barn using locally sourced grains and water. A little farther west, in Goshen, is the Orange County Distillery. It has a cocktail bar where guests can double down with a flavorful and inventive drink menu based on the full range of house spirits, including single malt whiskey, vodka, gin, corn whiskey, bourbon, and aged rye whiskey.

As winter turns into spring, this entire region will transform itself into another opportunity for visitors to enjoy fly fishing, hiking, kayaking, winery visits, festivals, and other outdoor activities.

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Gore Mountain scenic summit. (Gore Mountain)
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Merrill Magee Inn Restaurant. (Merrill Magee)
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Merrill Magee’s phyllo crème brûlée. (Merrill Magee)
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Caldwell’s lobby bar at the Sagamore Resort. (Sagamore Resort)
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The Sagamore Resort’s La Bella Vita Ristorante. (Sagamore Resort)

Isabelle Kellogg is a writer and public relations consultant in the luxury sector, with a passion for diamonds, jewelry, watches, and other luxury products, including travel.