A Relais & Chateau resort in the Adirondacks
Just as the bath water in my soaking tub was losing its steam, the fire was calling for another log. Climbing out of the deep tub and into a thirsty robe, I threw a few more logs into the big stone fireplaces in the bathroom and sitting room. Every window in the Lookout offered an expansive view over moody Upper Saranac Lake where a thick fog was hanging over the still water and green peaks of the Adirondacks beyond. It was the perfect afternoon for a fire. And a long hot bath with a book. A perfect day at The Point, a charming 11-room Relais & Chateaux property and former Great Camp of William Avery Rockefeller II located in the Adirondacks in upstate New York.
Earlier in the day, I’d been out on the lake before the clouds rolled in, gliding across the glassy water in a gorgeous 33’ 1933 replica Hacker-Craft named “The Point of it All.” The hand-constructed mahogany speed boat was driven by Bradley, who grew up not far from The Point and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else in the world. He proudly pointed out other Adirondack Great Camps, built by captains of industry at the turn of the last century – sprawling compounds of dark native timber and stone lodges with bright trim scattered across deep green lawns dotted with pots of geraniums as big as a VW Bugs and proud boat houses full of vintage boats.
Returning to the boat house at The Point, where one of five open bars sit stocked with snacks and local and international labels, I hopped in my own little craft, a Budsin Electric Boat to putter through the winding coves, watching for loons (they dive as deep as 250 feet and can stay underwater noshing for up to five minutes). Alone with my thoughts, eyes lifted to the darkening horizon, I felt the boat slow then remembered to switch to the second battery in time to slink back to shore through a veil of soft June rain.
Everything about The Point is soft, like a favorite pair of well-made leather gloves.
Thoughtful and elevated touches welcome even the most discerning guests at every turn. The game room bar is stocked with home made chips and cookies as well as gin and whisky from Lake Placid and beyond. The library offers old friends like Franny and Zooey and Anne Boleyn. Handmade wooden jigsaw puzzles from Stave taunt from a neat cabinet and a rather grand old billiard table stands sentinel, adorned with birch bark, antlers and a hand-painted landscape of some dreamy Adirondack lake (nearby, likely). If you must, you can watch television here (your room won’t have one) while you pretend the news or football score is more interesting than the view or the company. The Point attracts travelers who have honed the art of vacationing, taking pride in turning off phones and turning to the person next to them to actually carry on a conversation.
Dinners are an affair, with black tie dress suggested two nights a week in keeping with the historic perspective of the Gilded Age as no fewer than seven courses are served across tables set for a large party of your newest “Friends in Residence” (their names will be printed on the nightly menu laid at your place, not to worry). One evening, china by Versace and crushed velvet tablecloths pair seamlessly, framing a meal created just that day by Chef Loïc Leperlier and his team. Among the more memorable dishes (though each and every one left an impression) were a delicate yellowtail snapper served with fava beans, avocados, wild rice, sea beans and preserved lemon and nilgai (antelope) with ramps foraged the day before during a woods walk, Swiss chard from the kitchen garden, morels and rhubarb.
Change after dinner and take a walk down to the lake, look up at the stars and listen. You may hear a loon calling, the crackle of a nearby bonfire, a champagne cork popping or nothing at all.
That’s the point of it all.