THE BLOG
11/16/2010 12:44 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rustic Luxury in Lake Placid

To me, the perfect weekend getaway is one that gives you exactly the amount of relaxation you need without traveling too far from home. This means avoiding airports in most cases. For getaways more than two nights, an airport is okay in my book.

I live in New Jersey, so I have quite a few options available to me, especially in Upstate New York. I am somewhat of a hotel snob and only like to stay in properties that are at the top of the hotel food chain... Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, etc. I always get a little nervous going to ski resort-ish places. They're rarely what I envision them to be. I also like my hotels to be hip, well decorated and with killer service. I like my rustic served with a side of luxury, thankyouverymuch.

I heard about a hotel in Lake Placid called The Mirror Lake Inn. After a quick Google search, found it was an impressive property with a lengthy list of coveted awards... Wine Enthusiast, Travel & Leisure Top 500 Hotels In The World, and the Conde Nast Gold List. Really? Who knew? Call me a jaded New Yorker, but the only thing I knew about Lake Placid was there were Winter Olympics there at some point many years ago. And I think a movie, right?

I decided to book my family of four a weekend visit and hit the road. It would be me, my husband and our two children Brooke, 4 and Ford, 2. My sister was telling me I was "totally freaking nuts" for going "all the way up there" but my manager, Oscar, told me he goes every year with his family and we were going to love it. I trust Oscar's word, so off we went!

For starters, a four and a half hour trip with a two-year-old boy and four-year-old girl gives a whole new meaning to the word annoying. Definitely need to stock up on the IPad videos before the departure. Basically, the car ride was bordering on torture. However, once we (finally) hit the picturesque little town center of Lake Placid we were instantly enamored and my children seemed happy to see stores and humas and not highway signs. Luckily for us, the weather was in the low 50's which is like a heatwave for these folks.

Upon our arrival at The Mirror Lake Inn, we were greeted by a friendly staff and home made chocolate chip cookies. My kids were already thrilled they weren't given the Wasa crisp breads Mommy usually gives them, so we we were off to a good start! Our suite was rustic without being tacky but modern where it needed to be. While we enjoy a little weekend in the country, we also enjoy our Wifi, flat screen TV's and better than average toiletries. Check, check, check. And a beautiful view of Mirror Lake from the balcony was divine.

We did have to take what seemed like a five minute walk every time we left our room and headed for the lobby, but perhaps my children added to that... I didn't see any other kids, although my husband said he did at the indoor pool. I definitely wouldn't consider it a very family centered hotel, but I hate those places anyway, so that's a good thing. They welcome children but I didn't see an awful lot of them while I was there. There is a full service spa with garden variety treatments like one might expect.the Maple Sugar Body Scrub seems to be very popular. When I walked through the spa, I saw a gaggle of white robe clad ladies in their 50's who looked like they were definitely on a girls' spa weekend.

There are three restaurants on the property, Taste Bistro and Bar, The Cottage and The View. The Cottage and Taste Bistro are more casual and The View is for breakfast and more formal dinners. The only one we ate in was The View. The food was outstanding, the service was friendly and the wine list was one that might rival a fine Manhattan restaurant. The chef, Jarrad Lang prepared a Chilean sea bass for me that melted in my mouth and my husband's plate of wild boar was equally as impressive. My children were given scoops of chocolate ice cream when they began to get a little antsy while Mommy and Daddy lingered over tarte tatin and poached figs and honey infused ice cream. Sorry kids.

During the day, we ate at local eateries in town which run the gamut of standard sandwich shops to burger and wings joints to upscale steakhouses. One place in particular, a crepe place in town, was packed all day long. After going there for lunch I understood why. Delicious and cheap.

For fun, we visited the Olympic Ski Jump site, which was pretty cool. The building is really old and teeming with flies which kind of grossed me out, but you get to see just how high these ski jumpers go. Pretty damn high. There's an Olympic podium outside where everyone, myself included, seems to take pictures of themselves.

Then, we moved on to the Olympic Bobsled Experience. This was the highlight of our trip. For $89 you get to do the Olympic Bobsled run with a driver, of course. It takes 47 seconds and it is not for the faint of heart. My husband had to go first while I stayed back with the kids and then I would go. When he returned to the base, he looked at me and said flatly, "You might not want to do this".

Of course I did it anyway, but it was rough. The only way I can describe it is to say that it's like going on Space Mountain, but at 52 MPH with no seat belt and it moves all over the place and the only thing holding you in are the two orange straps the kid with the pierced lip hands you when you get in the thing that looks like a really beat up canoe.

I screamed the whole way down. It's not like a roller coaster, like they say. It's the real deal. I felt like I needed to do a shot of tequila when I got off. I would totally do it again.

At night, there is not much to do but eat good food, drink wine and relax by cozy firesides which are plentiful and kind of why you go there in the first place right?

I would recommend Lake Placid and The Mirror Lake Inn to anyone looking for a relaxing winter getaway with a side of sporty adventure.

And don't say I didn't warn you about the Bobsled Experience.

QUICK FACTS:
WHAT: Mirror Lake Inn Lake Placid, NY
www.mirrorlakeinn.com
Rates in a classic room start at $265 with breakfast for two and two suite robes. Available December 2010-April 2011.
WHERE: 4-5 hours from New York City by car
WHY GO: Picturesque, romantic, reasonable rates, variety of dining options, not just for skiing, cool Olympic vibe is pretty much everywhere.
WHEN: Between now and April. Temps often dip below zero in January, so it's something to consider before heading up there that time of year. There are lots of events and activities going on during season, inquire in advance.
DON'T MISS: The View Restaurant, Big Mountain Deli & Crepery and The Olympic Bobsled Experience