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Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, New York

Winter Sports in the Adirondacks

For many decades, the Lake Placid Club was the most likely Adirondack resort to which a CEO would have headed. A million years ago I attended the Northwood School, a boarding school in Lake Placid that was loosely affiliated with the Club, so visiting the area recently was a nostalgic event for me. The Club was a huge rambling wooden structure facing the village of Lake Placid on the opposite side of beautiful Mirror Lake. It was a simple, but elegant, hotel, in spite of an 1890s style of architecture, and it was also very exclusive (really a private club open only to members and their guests). But by the 1970s, time had taken its toll. After the 1980 Olympics, the Club's long decline ended in bankruptcy and, as so often happens in such situations, a fire later destroyed a large part of its empty main building, leaving it a sad ruin of its former glory.

The Library, Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, New York (credit: Edwin Fancher)

But, fortunately, there is a wonderful replacement for the Club, which is open to everybody, the Mirror Lake Inn. Actually, it has been in Lake Placid all along, having been built as a private residence in 1883 and converted to an inn in 1924. The Inn also had its own fire in 1988, but that may have been a blessing because it allowed the present owners to rebuild and upgrade their facilities. The Inn now has 128 rooms, including 19 suites of which several on two levels boast whirlpool baths. One of the loveliest features of the hotel is that all rooms face Mirror Lake and the beautiful range of Adirondack Mountains in the distance. The lobby is a large comfortable room, like an old- fashioned parlor, with a big stone fireplace, exuding abundant heat from a roaring fire. Tea is served there every afternoon. The Library, adjacent to the lobby, is decorated with the trophy heads of bison, elk and deer, while a full-bodied black bear stands guard beside the fireplace.

The Averil Conwell Dining Room is decorated with paintings of Adirondack scenes by the late artist of the same name. The windows also overlook the lake and the mountains beyond. The menu is quite ambitious. We found the main courses to be very good. The venison was outstanding, but some of the appetizers and salads were not quite up to the standard of the rest of the dishes. Adjacent to the main dining room is the Wykoff Room, which can be used for meetings and parties and has been newly refurbished in rustic Adirondack camp style. The Inn also sports a pub, The Cottage Cafe, across the road, perched on a waterfront deck hanging over the edge of the lake itself.

Since the Inn is a fine resource for a CEO vacation, it should be noted that it has space for business meetings with several rooms available in various sizes.

The spa facilities, featuring a wide range of massages and beauty treatments, are quite ample for a resort of this size. Spa personnel seemed to be very well trained. There is a complete gym with all the latest exercise equipment for those who prefer to work out inside. A 60-foot indoor heated pool fed by a small waterfall, an oversized hydrotherapy pool and a sauna are in a large room constructed like a chalet. There is also a heated outdoor pool for warm weather swimming.

The Inn arranges for participation in all the outdoor sports one would expect here: skiing, dog sledding, bobsledding, ice fishing and ice skating in winter. Indeed, the Inn made a reservation for me so that I could further reminisce by skating in the 1932 Olympic ice rink where I had played numerous games of hockey as a school boy. The next day, I visited Northwood School and found pictures of my hockey team and football team still displayed on the corridor wall.

Because Lake Placid is so famous for sports, it hosts many events, such as hockey tournaments, ski jumping and figure skating exhibitions year-round. While we were there we observed the National Figure Skating Championship in the 1980 Olympic ice rink at the same time a local hockey team practiced in the complex's smaller 1932 Olympic rink. Over the decades Lake Placid has maintained its luster as a great resort and sports center.


Cross-country skiing is available, as well as downhill skiing at Whiteface Mountain, one of the prime ski areas in the East. In summer, the hotel plans outings for hiking, rock climbing and fishing. Four golf courses are located within a few miles

Mirror Lake Inn, 5 Mirror Lake Drive, Lake Placid, NY 12946. Tel. 518-523-2544. Rates start at $75. www.mirrorlakeinn.com

Spring 1997