By Charlene S. Mixa
Bolton Landing’s Historic Sophisticated Island Resort
The Queen of Lakes sparkles under blue skies with mountains actually dipping into its glimmering lakeshore. A refuge from hectic daily lives for over two hundred years Bolton Landing on the shores of beautiful Lake George is a haven for artists, musicians, and families. Bolton Landing’s crown jewel is the Sagamore Resort set on a private island of the crystalline waters of Lake George. On the edge of the majestic Adirondacks with scenic vistas of mountains, forests and blue waters, the historic Sagamore Resort is an island playground offering a variety of activities for leisure travelers.
The roadway hugs the edge of the evergreen covered mountains on our drive along Lake George, creating a cozy inviting welcome to this scenic countryside. Taking the turn up the mountain to the Sagamore Golf Course we look forward to exciting mountain golf. The rustic setting of this Donald Ross designed course in the Adirondack Mountains is splendid, as is the helpful staff. Under bright blue skies, we join another couple on the first tee. With its breathtaking views of Lake George and the Adirondacks, the No. 1 Hole is awesome from its elevated tee to a major elevated undulating green. It’s like playing over a huge valley. The greens are fast! Is it the mountain or lake “affect” that cause several 3-putt greens?
Yes, the course definitely merits Corporate and Incentive Travel’s “Greens of Distinction” award and Condé Nast’s rating as a top U.S. resort course. A rolling hillside course that overlooks Lake George it is routed through an upland meadow and Adirondack woods. In pristine condition, its narrow fairways lined with hardwoods add extra challenge to each hole. With uphill, downhill, side hill, and parkland fairways and even a gorge to cross, the Sagamore Golf Course keeps us alert. Today I am in the zone making back to back birdies on No. 3 a par-3 and No. 4 a par-5 for ladies. Richard masters these demanding greens with fewest putts. I have a great round and am exhilarated at “almost” mastering this phenomenal mountain course.
Up, up and away! To the skies above Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains! As we finish golf, our North Country Heli-Flite tour confirms our pick up at the golf course by the No. 4 green. As the helicopter lands golfers stop to watch. The owner and pilot Bruce Mowery gets us situated in this 4-seat Robinson R-44 helicopter. With personal headsets for easy communication, Bruce takes us on an amazing flight over the azure waters of Lake George. The bubble windows provide an expansive view of the panoramic scenery. Educating us on this magnificent lake that is 32 miles long but only a few miles wide with 170+ islands and surrounded by mountains we thrill at our flight. The views are marvelous as we fly above Black Mountain, the Narrows at the north end of the lake with views of Little Lake Champlain, the hundreds of island for camping, and the sparkling Sagamore Resort.
Often flying above the treetops the perspective of the mountains and lakes is unique. Despite the hazy afternoon sky, the view is wonderful. Buzzing the town of Lake George we compare its rows of motels along the shoreline to the more spacious, forested hotels on bluffs outside this busy, tourist destination. Flying west we are above the Adirondacks, then over the Hudson River and to the east the mountains of Vermont. Absolutely fantastic! Bruce is a terrific pilot and guide. Heli-Flite is a spectacular way to see this scenic countryside.
Having checked in earlier at the Sagamore Resort, we now return to chill out and enjoy this historic and sophisticated resort. With its white clapboard siding and classic architect the hotel was originally built in 1883 and continues to offer a traditional hotel experience. The decor is elegant and opulent in the hotel lobby as is the impeccable staff. This luxury resort has been lovingly restored and continues to update all its amenities and accommodations achieving a new era of modern elegance. Our large king room, with its garden view, has updated smart furnishings including a comfy chair, HDTV, desk, and in-room safe.
While the resort is impressive from the front it is magnificent from the back with a huge circular portico hung with vibrant flowers and tiered terraces down to a gigantic pool and then to the pristine waters of Lake George. Taking a dip in the 10,000 square foot outdoor pool with its breathtaking views, we soak in the luxuriousness of Sagamore. The warming pool and upper pool terrace are quiet areas for relaxation while the main dock has lookout decks leading down to the waterfront. Invigorated from our swim, we freshen up and stop in at the Caldwell Lounge for drinks. The entertainment is excellent of a saxophonist/singer playing many popular and well known tunes. Enjoying a leisurely evening, we chat with others guests learning of the many updates and changes to the resort plus suggestions for “things to see” on our trip.
Up early we explore more of the resort finding it lives up to its claim of “a private island playground surrounded by the majestic Adirondacks.” Offering a variety of activities including a luxury resort spa, tennis, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a 40-ft. glass enclosed indoor pool, nature trails, all types of water sports, and a family fun recreation center. The Sagamore offers plenty for the active outdoor traveler or escaping to a quiet spot to linger in quiet seclusion.
Now for a boat tour of Lake George. Just as we reach the boat the sun disappears behind an overcast sky. At the Sagamore Dock, John and Anita Orlando welcome us aboard Indian Pipes, a 36 Ft. Luxury Trawler Yacht. With another couple on board, we are off for a fabulous Lake George cruise. Passionate about the Lake George area, John enchants and entertains us with tales, stories and the history of Lake George. As we slowly cruise the lake, he shares interesting tidbits and details from the rich and famous to the bizarre and ghostly. Bringing the Lake alive with history, John fascinates us with more insight into the Sagamore resort. Among the famous in Bolton Landing was Marcella Sembrich, an opera star in the early 1900’s, whose home on the Lake is now a fantastic museum. Each inlet and island offers a unique story from John’s repertoire of Lake history. Pointing out Wiawaka a retreat created by and for women in 1903, he shares that it continues today and is the oldest and longest continuously operating retreat for women in America. Room rates are on a sliding scale based on income.
Of the 170+ islands on Lake George the majority are state owned. Families reserve the island or campsite, reached only by boat, for family vacations on the lake. A few islands are private, some with stately homes or rustic cabins. On one island as John shares ghostly stories and eerie happenings at the house, the family comes out to greet us, when a gorilla pops out to add to the excitement. On the eastern shore of the lake, we find many inlets great for an afternoon of picnics and fun water sports. The rains arrive but don’t dampen our intriguing tour. Anita cheers us with tasty tray of gourmet cookies, as we laugh at a story of one group whose itinerary was so hectic it was nicknamed, “Kamp Kilyakwick”. They even had tee shirts made! While our cruise was for the history, Indian Pipes Charters also do fun picnic parties with swimming and tubing. A wonderful cruise and tour, thanks John and Anita.
We’ve worked up and appetite and are ready for lunch in Bolton Landing at a new restaurant, Son of a Sailor. Located on the main road, the restaurant has a crisp clean look and offers indoor and outdoor seating. The varied and outstanding menu also shares the unique and heroic story of Charles Mulchy (a sailor), the father of the owners Kathleen and Tim, and his impact on their lives. On their recommendations we share an appetizer of the signature dish of Crawfish Beer Battered Tail Meat with a Cajun tarter sauce, Crispy Calamari with a sweet chili Thai sauce, and Crave-able Crab Cakes with a tangy remoulade sauce. Delicious and huge! Richard enjoys the delicious, rich New England clam chowder while I enjoy a scrumptious Turkey Breast & Brie. The cheesecake dessert is fantastic! With such great food, the Son of a Sailor is already a success with visitors and locals.
Ambling across the street we visit the Bolton Landing Museum housed in a former church built in 1890. The museum displays an extensive collection of regional artifacts ad memorabilia further educating us on this area of Lake George and the Adirondacks. From our historical cruise with John Orlando we readily identify many properties and already feel a connection to the area.
Bolton Landing and the Sagamore Hotel are wonderful destinations for the active or leisure traveler. The luxury of the historic and elegant Sagamore is enhanced by its island setting along the shores of Lake George and the foot of the Adirondacks. A terrific location, where visitors enjoy these beautiful, natural surroundings and the many lakeside and mountainside activities.
If you go:
Bolton Historical Museum, 4924 Lake Shore, Dr, Bolton Landing, NY 12814; www.boltonhistorical.org
Indian Pipes Charter Cruise; http://www.lakegeorgenewyork.com/indianpipes
North Country Heli-Flite, Inc, PO Box 703, Bolton Landing, NY 12814; 518.668.3606; www.northcountryheliflite.com
Son of a Sailor, 4933 Lakeshore Dr, Bolton Landing, NY 12814; 518-240-6017; http://sonofasailorboltonlanding.com
The Sagamore Resort, 110 Sagamore Road, Bolton Landing, NY 12814; 518.644.9400; www.TheSagamore.com
Warren County Tourism Department, 1340 State Route 9, Municipal Center, Lake George, NY 12845-9803; 1.800.95VISIT Ext. 143; www.VisitLakeGeorge.com