The COVID era spawned a new way of looking at travel. We have focused on destinations that are easily reachable by car, which brought us to our latest getaway to New York’s Lake George. Specifically, we stayed at The Sagamore resort in Bolton Landing. It occupies most of what is known as Green Island and is connected to the mainland via a bridge. Construction on the property started in 1930. It’s the only remaining stately hotel from that era on Lake George, with historic status. Two predecessor hotels burned down, the first dating back to the 1880s.
Our original room was in the main hotel building, visible above, but as I arrived at the room, I knew Pat was disappointed since she was walking out with room key in hand. To be fair, the room was large for an older hotel and had a coveted lake view, but it also overlooked a tent that covered a dining area and it lacked a balcony. Balconies are scarce in the main hotel, limited to $1,000-a-night suites in the central portico, visible in the above photo. But Pat was able to cajole the front desk into switching us to a room in the Lodges. They are essentially condo-type rooms around the side and back of the main hotel. Some are private residences. But it was a major upgrade, featuring a separate bedroom, living area with a gas fireplace, small kitchen and a deck with two Adirondack rocking chairs.
Our visit was built around my 65th birthday, and as it turns out it was still shoulder season in this region. Hence why we could upgrade at no cost since the rooms weren’t going to be booked. But we would look to book in the same section on a return visit. The Summer season starts around the middle of June, kicks into high gear over the July 4th holiday, and then runs through Labor Day weekend. The region also attracts leaf-peepers in Autumn and Winter sports aficionados, but July and August are the peak summer months. Our week was pretty mellow, since we arrived just after Memorial Day and departed on a Friday ahead of the arrival of the weekenders.
The hotel has an 18-hole golf course off the main property in the hills that surround the lake. It was designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1928, the same year as our home course in Yardley, Pa. It’s a mountain course with plenty of elevated tees and greens. We played it the day after we arrived and luckily it was sunny and warm for most of the round. The wind picked up towards the end and rain came in later in the day, but by that time we were off to dinner. The picture below doesn’t fully capture the elevation change, but it was a good course, lots of fun
Our golf day was not without its travails, however, with poor Pat ending up on the short end. Before we started off the guy in the pro shop volunteered that it was black fly season and asked if we needed bug spray. We had some and dutifully sprayed it on ourselves, focusing on our legs and arms where we thought the little buggers would strike. Wrong. Turns out they go for the hairline, and Pat was the recipient of four bites on the back of the neck. Weird thing is that I wasn’t bothered at all; maybe I’m not that tasty. Equally weird is that Pat never knew she had been bitten. She didn’t realize it until we were driving back to the hotel and a hornet or wasp flew in the open window and, you guessed it, stung Pat on the thigh! In trying to fend off that insect she discovered the bites on the back of her neck. A lifelong local working the front desk looked at the red welts on Pat’s neck and confirmed they were black fly bites. “Welcome to the Adirondacks,” he said.
This was meant to be an R&R type of getaway, with an emphasis on outdoor activities. We arrived around 2 pm on my birthday to lovely weather. We mostly strolled around the property and then went back to our room to enjoy a glass of wine on the deck. Our dinner the first night was at the outdoor lakeside restaurant. It’s a charming and relaxed setting. We liked it enough to return on our last night. A storm rolled in so it was chillier, but the staff lit the gas heaters to keep us comfortable.
Our last full day was devoted to checking out some of the nearby hiking trails. Three are too many trails to mention here, but our first walk was the Pinnacle trail. It’s a one-mile hike up the mountain, where you can get a good view of the lake and the hotel below. It was a dreary day, however, sort of drizzly and overcast. It never rained hard, but the pictures were not as sharp as they would be on a sunny day. We took a second walk at a nearby nature preserve that was a former farm.
In the afternoon we drove to the town of Lake George for a trip on one of the converted former steamships that used to ply the lake. We tend to do water excursions whenever we travel. You get a good view of the surroundings and usually learn some things about the area. Plus it’s just nice to be on the water. The Sagamore has its own boat but a downside of shoulder season is that they only operate it on weekends until the peak summer crowds come in. But all of the tour boats cruise past the hotel, and it is how I got some of the pictures at the top of this post.
Despite the insect-borne travails we agreed we could envision a return visit to the property. It’s a relatively easy drive of a little over four hours from our home and next time we will know how to properly apply bug spray. Either that or we will go after black fly season ends in early July!
Finally a few comments on the property itself. The grounds are spacious, with plenty of amenities. There are tennis courts for those that play, and a recreation center with a lot of different games, good for families with children, especially on a rainy day. There are indoor and outdoor pools, both heated, and a fitness center that was good sized for a hotel. At the end of our hiking day the only creature in one of the outdoor pools was the mallard below.
We enjoyed the food we had on site and found the prices to be reasonable. We paid a similar amount for breakfast at a restaurant near our house as we did for breakfasts on site at the Italian-themed restaurant. Because we ate there twice we did not try it for dinner but instead opted to try a restaurant in town, Beyond the Sea, which was recommended by a friend. I enjoyed the meal, but I have to say it was pricey and the view was limited to activity on the main street. The lake was out of view. I’m not sure I’d go back. Next time I think we’d try the equally pricey Chateau on the Lake, right across from Beyond the Sea, but with a lake view.
We ate our last breakfast at a small deli/marina that was just off the island. It is a short walk to reach the town of Bolton Landing, where there are several restaurants, a brew pub, and a local winery that we stopped at for a tasting. The wines were decent, typical for the region, that is, drinkable, but not out of this world. We still bought a couple bottles, as we always do. A few other photos follow.