I first saw Mirror Lake Inn out the window of my father’s car. It was wintertime and the resort looked like a giant snow globe perched high on a ridge of pine trees. My twelve-year-old brain made a mental note to return one day for a visit.
About ten years later I passed the Inn for a second time on route from Montreal to Whiteface Mountain for a ski day. This time I was the driver but my school chums weren’t interested in lollygagging as the only site they wanted to see was the ski hill. Frustratingly, neither could I stop decades later when — up against a publisher’s deadline — I raced back and forth across upstate New York collecting research for a book.
More decades passed and I moved to Vancouver and became Wallop’s COO. Soon after my colleague Ryan Clarke suggested we visit client properties in Ontario, Quebec, and New York State. I jumped at the offer particularly when he mentioned names like ‘Lake Placid’ and ‘Mirror Lake.’
The first stops on our road trip were grand. We went from the venerable Lord Elgin Hotel (at the height of Ottawa’s Tulip Festival) to the Antonopoulos collection of historic, elegant properties in Old Montreal including Hotel Place D’Armes, Hotel William Gray, and Hotel Nelligan, where having rooftop drinks among celebrities is a longstanding tradition. If you’re lucky, you can say ‘hi’ to a movie star as I did one day to John Malkovich (he’s still talking about it.)
We left the fast life behind when we crossed the international border into the Adirondack mountains and the forests and lakes for which they are famous. Before long my imaginary snowglobe came into view and although it was springtime, the Inn was as big, imposing and as charming as I remembered.
Equally big, imposing and charming was the friendly face that greeted us. It belonged to Chris Jarvis, the tall and gregarious Director of Rooms for the Mirror Lake Inn. I’d checked on Chris’s background prior to arriving: he was well liked by the entire Wallop team and known as a demanding but not unreasonable client who always brought out the best in us.
It was easy to see why. Typical of most upstate New Yorkers, Chris is genuinely disarming with a friendly manner. But he’s also a perfectionist and a world class hotelier as guests to the Inn soon discover. For the next two days, Chris exposed us to menus, staff, rooms, and suites that struck all the right notes with perfect Adirondack touches, big and small.
‘World class’ is an epithet too easily used in the luxury hospitality sector but the Mirror Lake Inn has the medals to prove it. Andrew Weibrecht, the fourth of Inn owners Ed and Lisa Weibrecht’s five children, won Olympic ski medals in two successive Winter Games, first in 2010 here in Vancouver and then in 2014 at the Sochi games in Russia. If you’re like me and unintentionally perform slapstick with every mogul you encounter, I recommend taking a selfie with Andrew’s two medals on display in the Inn’s lobby. For a brief, shining moment you’ll feel like a world-class skier.
Walk to the left and you’ll find yourself in a wood-paneled library with a fireplace big enough to park a Tesla; to the right, you’ll be seated in the View, the region’s only AAA-rated restaurant. It’s telling that typical half of the diners are guests of the Inn and half are locals who’ll tell you they never tire of the view. That’s because of the two, Mirror Lake is much more than Lake Placid’s smaller sibling: it’s the prettier of the two. At a window table in The Cottage, the Inn’s cabin restaurant on the northwest shore, you’ll experience a lake view that’ll make you forget how you even got there.
Only two families have owned the Inn over it’s near century-long life, the Weibrechts who bought it in 1976 and the Wikoffs who built it fifty years earlier. Lisa, the interior decorator of the Weibrecht family, has somehow seamlessly mixed the ambiance of both eras. Walk the Inn’s wooden hallways and you’ll see antiques and photographs dating back to when Lake Placid first hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 (if you’re not wearing a retro Nordic ski sweater, you might feel naked). Downstairs in the spa, this boomer felt reborn as a millennial thanks to the Inn’s modern hot baths and saunas, and a session in the gym.
There’s something inherently relaxing about Mirror Lake. My intention of reading in my suite after the spa was short-circuited by an involuntary nap. I awoke and noticed a group of people hurrying around. Who would anyone be doing such hectic business at Mirror Lake? It turned out to be the production crew of the hit HBO series, Succession, who were filming down the road and had booked an entire wing of the Inn. “It’s very cozy and commodious,” the production manager told me, “a nice change for us Hollywood types.”
If you’re like Ryan and me and a big fan of the series, you might remember the fifth episode of the second season entitled Tern Haven set in Colorado at the Pierce family’s wilderness retreat. The shore of this fictional estate in the American west is actually that of Mirror Lake, New York, and in the distance you can see Whiteface masquerading as a Rocky mountain!
Before we left, Chris showed us the recently renovated multi-bedroom waterfront cabins, perfect in summer for a family of swimmers, canoeists, boaters and fishers, and ideal in winter for a brood of downhill or cross-country skiers.
As we crossed the street to Ryan’s car, a family drove by with a young lad’s face pressed up against the rear seat window. It was as though Chris was reading my mind when he turned to me and said, “I know you’ll be back.”
And with that we shook hands and said goodbye to Mirror Lake Inn, at least until next time.
Are you ready for your getaway to Lake Placid? We’ve partnered with Mirror Lake Inn to offer an exclusive discount. Call 518-523-2544 and quote “Wallop” to get 25% off. 2 night minimum, non-holiday dates, based on availability.