Spa and Travel Review: The Whiteface Lodge

By on April 2, 2013

The groundhog may have promised an early spring and even the calendar hints at warmer days ahead, but I can assure you that there is plenty of winter left in the Lake Placid region of New York State. Lake Placid is home to the first winter resort in the United States, a rich Olympic Winter Games history and the spectacular Whiteface Lodge. While Lake Placid and The Whiteface Lodge are all-season destinations, this area and the resort really sparkle in the winter or in weather that remains winter-like, despite the predictions of a certain furry marmot.

The Whiteface Lodge is located an easy and scenic ten miles from Whiteface Mountain, the host of the 1932 and 1980 winter olympics and a mountain known for the greatest vertical drop East of the Rockies at 3,430 feet. In mid-March, the temperature at the base is a brisk 16 degrees and much lower at the summit where I am not brave enough to venture. Overnight, a few inches of snow have fallen adding to the good skiable base that will no doubt go strong until the tentative closing date on April 14.

The sun appears for most of the morning making for soft corduroy thanks to excellent grooming on the lower mountain. The crowds are minimal and the only lift line is at the Cloudsplitter Gondola and that is no more than 5 to 8 minutes maximum. Well worth it, I’d say, to experience the climate-friendly eight-person lift that carries you from the Main Base Lodge to the top of Little Whiteface in 15 minutes with spectacular views.

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

For a mountain that has earned the moniker “Iceface” due to conditions that can be brutally cold, windy and icy, this nastier side of the beast never shows it’s face. What we are left with is excellent skiing, terrain for all abilities and I hear, some pretty good on-mountain dining options.

White Face Lodge_photo room-44presidential_bedroomThe room: While there is so much to do at The Whiteface Lodge, you may never want to leave your supremely well-equipped suite. The entire Lodge is designed like a luxuriously homey Adirondack Great Camp, steeped in tradition and yet far from stodgy. It’s this hominess factor that was the key driver in our decision not to flee when our son came down with an intestinal virus on the first morning of our stay.

Any family who travels has likely had to endure a sick child during travel and the awkwardness and discomfort that this scenario presents. I never felt this way at The Whiteface Lodge. We just camped out in our suite and waited for it to pass and then got on with enjoying our stay.

Our Deluxe one bedroom suite (this room type measures 725 to 925 square feet) was spacious and roomy. The bedroom and living rooms are separate, with the sleeping area offering a King bed and the living area hosting a Queen sleeper sofa for the kids. Compared to the Junior and Superior Suites, the bathrooms are larger and feature a separate two-person jetted tub set apart from the shower. Our Deluxe Suite also provide an additional half-bath which our son loved!

We had a full kitchen which we didn’t use to prepare meals, but it’s always handy to have a fridge for storing beverages and a microwave for heating leftovers and making popcorn. And when we ordered takeout from Kanu Lounge for dinner, eating at a real table with real plates and silverware was a civilized way to enjoy in-room dining.

White face lodge-exterior pool in winterThe amenities: Looking for the perfect family-friendly getaway? You’ve found it! Families and couples, often at odds when it comes to vacationing, seem to co-exist peacefully here.

The lodge boasts an indoor/outdoor heated pool complex accessible from the main lodge via an underground hallway. In the dim afternoon light of a late winter day, snowfalls on our heads as we swim underneath the little tunnel that connects the steamy indoor pool area with the much crisper outdoor area. If you’re brave enough, you might pop out of the water just long enough to dash into one of the outdoor hot tubs. Steam rises around you from every watery surface, giving the impression of a dramatic outdoor scene.

The Whiteface Lodge is a lodge for all seasons, but it really shines in wintery weather with surprises around every turn. With onsite winter amenities such as a large lighted private ice skating rink (skate usage included), snowshoeing (snow shoes and trail map provided) and hot chocolate served in a heated yurt, you may never want to leave. A host of indoor amenities such as a two lane bowling alley, upscale game room and 56-seat movie theater with fresh popped popcorn will please even those who don’t love the outdoors. With this much to do, you’ll never get cabin fever when the weather gets too rough to play outside.

White face lodge-restuarant-scallopsDining: See that awesome stone fireplace in the photo? That’s in Kanu (pronounced canoe), the fine dining restaurant at The Whiteface Lodge. There are two of those massive fireplaces in the main dining room the fires were stoked many, many times during our two hour feast to keep us warm on a blustery night.

But before we sat down for dinner, I sat down with the resorts Sommelier and Beverage Manager, Scott Waller. And what a treat that was! Not only did I get to sample The Lodge’s signature “Campfire” cocktail – bourbon, maple water, apple cider, scotch and fresh sage – a campfire in a glass, but I learned about how the culinary team gets inspired to create new menus for each season and event.

With so many repeat guests, Scott has his work cut out for him keeping the wine and beverage offerings both fresh and consistent. But it doesn’t seem much like work to Scott, who was bitten by a bug that has inspired his love for creating local and seasonal food and beverage pairings to please every palate. And that even includes my chicken tender-adoring son who gave a thumbs up at Kanu’s tender all white meat version. Rumor has it that they’re a staff favorite! For young guests with more distinguished taste buds, Kanu’s kids menu offers smaller versions of basic items like salmon and filet.

Dinner service is when Scott’s education, training and experience really shine as he moves from table to table, consulting with guests on the perfect beverage to pair with their meal from conception to last bite. I couldn’t resist trying the lodge’s Winter Rum Runner – a contrast in terms – considering the storm brewing outside Kanu’s wall of windows. It was sunshine in a glass.

Our ever-smiling dinner servers conquered a difficult to achieve balance of professionalism and warmth, with a cordiality and genuine interest in ensuring our stay and meal was memorable. Every course offered bold and unexpected ingredients – like the Red Wine Poached Pear Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, Maytag Blue Cheese, Baby Arugula and a Strawberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette. As a salad should be it was the point-counterpoint of savory, sweet, tangy and tart.

Everything we tried was delicious, but we especially enjoyed the very shareable “Ice Cream Sandwich” dessert – toffee ice cream sandwiched between two chewy brownie cookies, rolled in chocolate chips and set amidst sweet caramel sauce. I hope my personal trainer isn’t reading this!

The spa: It’s blustery and cold outside. You’ve skied all day or you’ve been on one of the snowshoe trails surrounding The Whiteface Lodge. Or perhaps you’ve been ice skating or enjoying any of the other winter-weather pursuits that The Whiteface Lodge or Lake Placid has to offer and now it’s time to come in from the cold. The Spa at The Whiteface Lodge is the perfect respite. It’s no surprise the spa offers treatments inspired by the the flora and fauna of the surrounding Adirondack mountains.

My dry and itchy skin hasn’t figured out that spring has technically sprung yet either and the Adirondack Exfoliation drew my attention for it’s ability to exfoliate the outer layer of dryness and provide some much needed hydration. Given the choice of three scents, I chose the bergamot, spruce and lavender blend in a base of carrier oils and minerals created by the lodge. The treatment offers a scrub, then a wrap with a face and scalp massage, a quick shower and an application of moisturizing lotion to seal the deal and seal in the hydrating effects. I haven’t itched since.

Post-treatment I joined a half dozen other ladies in the simple women’s sanctuary, set up more for social spa’ing than quiet relaxation. As with every element of this property, not a single detail deviates from the Adirondack Great Camp theme and the spa is no exception. (Well, maybe there weren’t eucalyptus steam rooms and dry saunas back in the Great Camp era, but I won’t tell if you won’t).


Originally posted on Examiner.

About Michele McIntyre

Michele McIntyre is a freelance writer who covers spas, travel, fitness, wellness, beauty and healthy living/eating. She is happiest when lying face up on the treatment table, writing about her spa and travel experiences or testing new products to share with her readers. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. Michele is a regular travel contributor to LivingBetterat50+ and has written for Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and online at Tripology, TripAtlas, and Splash Magazines Worldwide. Michele blogs about the spa and travel industry, and anything else she can think of, at When she isn't writing about or visiting spas, Michele loves traveling, hiking, skiing, camping, yoga and reading. If any of these pursuits can be combined with a visit to the spa, even better! Michele can be reached at [email protected]

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Spa and Travel Review: The Whiteface Lodge