UPPER SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. -- The Point has posh decor, multicourse
gourmet meals, an almost 1-to-1 staff-guest ratio and two fully
stocked bars open 24/7.
But for me, nothing says luxury like the turndown amenity that
appeared on the first night of my stay: two freshly baked cookies
on which my and my husband's names were written in chocolate
The gift isn't exactly a Rolex watch, but it is a personal and
homey touch -- words that sum up my experience here.
With just 11 rooms, set in a series of log cabin-like structures
deep in the Adirondack woods, the Point seems like a cozy house
party rather than a resort.
The atmosphere encourages mingling -- at meals, on a daily hike
and at a nightly bonfire (where all the ingredients for S'mores are
at hand) -- but some guests do keep to themselves.
The personal touch was carried through to the kitchen, which
each night honored my mostly vegetarian diet by modifying my
portion of the main course at dinner.
The property's general manager, Tim Thuell, was always on the
alert for ways to customize each guest's experience. When someone
expressed interest in an activity, from water-skiing to yoga, he
immediately offered to set the guest up with a private class or
Thuell's service philosophy -- "Yes is the answer; now, what's
the question?" -- inspires loyalty from repeat guests, several of
whom were in residence that weekend.
One, Eric Bothwell of New York, had been to many other upscale
resorts. Yet, he said, "The Point is the best place I ever
"It's a combination of things, -- the location, the activities,"
he said. "You can do anything here, from summer to winter sports.
And then there's Tim, of course."
Thuell seems to be the secret weapon: He's a genial host,
attentive without being obtrusive.
His attentiveness begins during the booking process. Travel
agents should be prepared to discuss their clients' likes,
dislikes, activities, food preferences and allergies, he said.
The Point attracts a client base that's mostly from New York and
its affluent suburbs, with a smattering of guests from Texas and
California and points worldwide.
With room rates ranging from $1,250 to $2,400, the Point seems
well-suited to upscale clients who relish a clubby, intimate
atmosphere and high level of service. Rates are all-inclusive for
two people and feature three meals daily, liquor and the use of
basic facilities, including a boat ride.
Our room (which featured a dressing area the size of many New
York apartments) was decorated with outdoorsy yet luxe touches,
like the birch-barked bathtub and the fox-fur throw on the wide,
Another way the place is like home: Pets are allowed and even
encouraged. "This is dog heaven," said Thuell, whose labrador,
Sophie, was found lounging about like any other satisfied
For more information, call the Point at (800) 255-3530 or visit
Clients who want the same rustic-yet-upscale atmosphere, access
to the outdoors and good service -- but with a less clubby feel --
might consider the Lake Placid Lodge, which is about a half-hour
away from the Point, in Lake Placid.
Like the Point, the Lodge is a Relais & Chateaux member and
is owned by the Garrett Group of Burlington, Vt.
Other similarities include the fireplace in every room, nightly
bonfires, open-door pet policy and Adirondack-style furnishings and
But the Lodge takes this theme even further, acting as a gallery
for a group of artists who display their work (most of which is for
sale) around the property.
Our room had a picture window with a great view of the lake --
and such thoughtful amenities as relaxation and nature music CDs
along with a CD player.
I wondered why the Lodge didn't include one necessary object
that was in evidence at the Point: insect repellent.
The Lodge has 17 guest rooms and 17 lakefront cabins. Rates,
ranging from $375 to $1,200, include breakfast and afternoon tea.
The price also includes other activities, such as a daily boat ride
around the lake.
For an additional charge, guests can arrange for a variety of
outdoor adventures, including private instruction with Olympic
trainers at the nearby sports facilities used in the 1980 Winter
The public restaurant offers a mix of international cuisines.
One memorable finishing touch at dinner was a bouquet of cheesecake
lollipops, each garnished with crunchy chocolate.
For more information, call (877) 523-2700 or visit www.lakeplacidlodge.com.
Commission for both properties is 10%.
To contact reporter Phyllis Fine, send e-mail to [email protected].