The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, the nights are getting longer — it’s the ideal time to hit the road. Check out our local action-packed fall foliage routes or opt for a weekend getaway just a little farther from home
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Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, Lake Placid
An eco-friendly mountain resort with gold-medal-worthy facilities
By Jennifer Leba
Fall used to be the off-season in Lake Placid. No more. “There used to be a real dip between summer and the busy winter season, but those days are mostly gone,” says Jennifer Holdereid, whose family owns the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort (518-523-3353), located right in the center of the village. “We get lots of hikers and leaf-peepers and older people without kids. Midweek, it is a little less crowded, so our prices do go down a bit then. We’re able to offer some great golf and mountain-biking packages in the fall.”
If you’ve never traveled to this pristine Adirondack outpost about an hour south of the Canadian border, you may be surprised to learn that it is much more than an old skiing town that twice hosted the Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980). It’s a vibrant village that celebrates the great outdoors with gusto — and also with a certain international flair. Due to the town’s omnipresent Olympics facilities, there is a constant influx of world-class athletes — and when they’re not training, they parade about the village in cheerful groups, chattering away in a variety of tongues.
And while the Golden Arrow certainly hosts its fair share of athletes, the high level of repeat customers are likely showing up for the one-of-a-kind location — within walking distance of everything and on the shores of beautiful Mirror Lake — the comfortable family feeling, and the very cool eco-friendly vibe.
Holdereid and her brother and sister now run the resort that their parents first bought as a 36-room, exterior-entrance motel in 1974. They’ve transformed it into a sleek property with an assortment of luxury rooms and suites (some with fireplaces), an indoor pool, an attractive sandy beach, their very own gondola (named Lucia) to squire you around the lake, and an oversized lobby with a huge picture window to take in the sites. When it is time to munch, stop right into Charlie’s Restaurant, attached to the resort. The innovative American cuisine is good, but make sure that you don’t miss one of the fancy-schmancy cocktails at the T-Bar — they’re the real stars of the show.
But it’s probably the Valued Guests discount program for repeat visitors and its pet-friendly policy that most helps the resort retain its “Aw, shucks,” friendly feeling. “We have this black Great Dane that comes two or three times a year. His name is Jake, but I don’t know what his parents’ names are,” says Holdereid. “We’re lucky to have an animal-crazy staff that will watch a little dog at the front desk when people go out to dinner.” And it’s not just canines. “Birds, ferrets, rabbits. One woman comes every year for a few weeks in the off-season. Her cat sits with her in the lobby while she does work and then just goes back to the room by himself.”
Holdereid believes the inn’s guest loyalty is also enhanced by its green initiatives. The resort is one of only a dozen properties in North America to have been granted four leaves by the Audubon Society International. Some of their programs? In 2008, they installed a 3,400-square-foot green roof that “was blooming like crazy this summer,” says Holdereid. They truck in tons of limestone each year to make up the sand at the beach because it helps counteract the effects of acid rain. They use CFL light bulbs, 100-percent recycled paper products, and low-flow toilets and showerheads. And their famous green quiz — where you have to trek around the resort looking for answers — is a favorite with all generations.
Holdereid’s picks for the best autumn activities? “I like to head up to one of the ski jumps because you can really get a fantastic view from there, or drive up to the top of Whiteface Mountain. Of course, the view from our lobby window is pretty nice, too.”
The Olympic Center contains one indoor and four outdoor skating rinks and offers classes, events, and sports camps. (You might just catch a glimpse of the world-class speed skaters, skiers, and hockey players who train here, too.) A museum on-site exhibits athletes’ equipment and uniforms. Activities at the center abound: Take a chairlift or elevator to the top of the 90- and 120-meter ski lifts at the Olympic Ski Jumping complex or watch Nordic and freestyle competitions year-round. You can even take a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime ride with a pro aboard a bobsled — or go it alone on a luge.
Lake Placid; 518-523-1655
Flaming Leaves Festival
This two-day festival (Oct. 10-11) features live blues bands, barbecue, craft vendors, games, and a front-row seat to the annual ski jump competition, where skiers from all over North America show off their skills. You can enjoy the fall foliage at its prime and even travel to the top of the ski jump on the chairlift to view the Adirondacks.
Lake Placid; 518-523-1655
» Next stop: Historic Inns of Rockland, Rockland, Maine