Point is, this Adirondack hotel pampers guests

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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 frosting.

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 session.

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 stayed."

"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.

This room at the Point exemplifies the property's rustic yet upscale Adirondack style. 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, comfortable sofa.

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 guest.

For more information, call the Point at (800) 255-3530 or visit www.thepointresort.com.

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 decor.

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 Olympics.

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].

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