An Olympic Destination


John McMahon and Heidi Stone
John McMahon with High Peaks Resort’s Heidi Stone


In the travel industry, we are always hearing about the hot new destination. Mexico’s newest Riviera, temple stays in Korea, even Cairo’s Garbage City have all had their moment. But then there are the evergreen locations, where families have quietly spent their vacations year after year. Lake Placid, NY, is one of these.

While most of my family getaways have been to warmer destinations, I recently escaped with my family for a long weekend to Lake Placid to truly experience a winter holiday. I must confess, I also wanted to relive some of my younger days.

One of my first jobs in tourism was as a tour guide for Green Mountain Tours. We were the largest tour operator into Lake Placid. Those days are over but the place hasn’t changed a bit; that’s why it is so special. Hosting the Olympics in 1980 was a stretch on the town’s resources and it is still much the same today. What makes Lake Placid so special is that everything is at your doorstep. If you don’t feel particularly adventurous, you never have to use your car during your stay.

I chose High Peaks Resort. In my youth it was a Hilton, the hotel we used for our groups. It is now an independent and has gone through a complete renovation, taking it far above the standards of a Hilton. It has an ideal location—the view from my room was of Mirror Lake. I was able to watch families take dogsled rides, cross-country skiers whisk by my balcony, and impromptu hockey games. All without leaving the room. 

We did venture out and had a day of skiing at Whiteface Mountain. On our second day, we hit the Olympic venues and gave our children a history lesson on the highlights of the Games. (As for the famed Miracle on Ice U.S. hockey win over Russia, it was hard to recreate the excitement. I guess you had to be around in 1980.)

Lake Placid is a true Adirondack town. I was told by Heidi Stone, director of sales at High Peaks Resort, that the summer season is actually busier than winter ski season. The area is a playground for hiking, biking and every water sport imaginable.

It’s not all play. Along with the great meeting facility at High Peaks, the town is opening a conference center this spring that will be attached to the Olympic Center. So conferences and groups can now be treated to an Olympic-style venue. And, for business or pleasure, Lake Placid is a winner in my book.

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