With its astounding beauty, low-key charm and endless ways to enjoy the outdoors, there’s no better antidote to a stressful couple of years than this northern New York destination.
When people think about the Adirondacks, they likely imagine a place with awe-inspiring beauty: rolling mountain ranges, sparkling lakes, majestic waterfalls, breathtaking views. The same attributes that make the Adirondacks a perfect vacation getaway—fresh mountain air, endless activities, a setting to detox from urban stress—also make the region appealing to meeting planners for corporate gatherings and conferences.
“It’s a small town but with a big infrastructure, meaning it has the charm and gives the feeling that you’ve gotten away to a secluded area, but there’s plenty of opportunities for meetings of all sizes, thanks to the large-town capacity,” says Mimi Wacholder, owner and principal planner of Lake Placid-based Juniper Events and Design, who has been planning corporate meetings of all kinds here for 18 years. “There are endless opportunities for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing—secondary activities that have become the forefront of meetings and conventions here.”
Though the Adirondacks feel worlds away from the big city, getting here is relatively easy.
Amtrak train service leaves from Penn Station and heads directly to Adirondack Park, winding its way through the lush wine country of the Hudson Valley. Meeting attendees departing from most points in New England and Upstate New York can make the drive on a single tank of gas. It’s a two-hour drive from Burlington, 2 1/2 hours from Albany, four hours from Syracuse, five hours from Boston and six hours from Buffalo. The drive is just as easy from Canada: 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 hours from Montreal and Ottawa, respectively. There are also two regional airports, making the destination accessible for those traveling from farther distances.
There’s a lot to do in the Adirondacks, exploring villages like Saranac Lake, browsing regional craft galleries, or learning about the region’s history at Adirondack Museum. And, of course, you’re never far from a tree-lined hiking trail.
For those travelers who have a bit more time on their hands, a visit to Whiteface Mountain’s Atmospheric Sciences Center, reached via a memorable journey up Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, is about an hour from Lake Placid and two to three hours from Lake George.
Olympic Dreams in Lake Placid
Lake Placid’s tagline promises “Inspired Meetings. Unique Experiences.” It’s easy to see how the town can deliver on that claim. Aside from its magnificent mountains, pristine waterways and relaxing nature trails, Lake Placid is one of the few two-time Olympic host cities in the world, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games. The latter is famous for the “Miracle on Ice” hockey game between the United States and Soviet Union, where the American team was widely recognized as the underdog yet emerged triumphant to win the gold medal.
All of the Olympic venues are open to the public for viewing and for participation in the activities they offer. Ride down the Olympic bobsled track, take the elevator to the top of the 120-meter ski jump, and access the summit of Whiteface Mountain by either the Cloudsplitter Gondola or the scenic Veterans Memorial Highway.
With more than 90,000 square feet of conference space, The Conference Center at Lake Placid can accommodate conferences, conventions, trade shows and meetings of any size. And the Gold LEED certified center has a prime location on Main Street, next to the Olympic Oval and across from Mirror Lake. “The conference center is centrally located right in the Village of Lake Placid, so unique shopping and restaurants along Lake Placid’s quaint Main Street are just steps away,” says Buzzy Rickard, conference coordinator. “It offers state-of-the-art A/V as well as world-class, in-house catering service to meet all needs.”
Around the venue, there are three museums, multiple art galleries, guided boat tours on Lake Placid Lake, several day spas in the village, four 18-hole golf courses and many nearby hiking/skiing trails.
High Peaks Resort offers 10,000 square feet of recently renovated meeting and banquet spaces and can accommodate small board meetings and groups of up to 250 .
“We elevate meetings, conventions, retreats, ski group getaways and family reunions to the next level by creating an experience to uniquely meet their needs,” says Katrina Lauber, sales manager for the resort. “As you wake to the view of the mountains and Mirror Lake, guests can relax and enjoy the peace of being surrounded by the beautiful natural setting.”
The resort offers three unique hotels for inspiring meetings and retreats: the 44-room Lake House, an inn on the lake that can be bought out by a group with a personalized cocktail hour and activities planned; 28 rooms in the Waterfront Collection, offering immediate access to Main Street and Mirror Lake activities; and 105 guest rooms in the main resort, close to on-site dining, a relaxing spa and salon, and multiple pools to lounge around and brainstorm new ideas.
Crowne Plaza Lake Placid, located adjacent to the Olympic Center, adds up as a venue for large meetings with 1,000 acres, 30,000 square feet of function space, 245 guest rooms, and 45 holes of championship golf at the 100-year-old Lake Placid Club. Activities and amenities include a private trout reserve, tours of Lake Placid aboard covered pontoon boats, a private beach club and indoor pool, and a wide variety of dining options, including lobster feasts and BBQs at Lake Placid Club.
Exploring Lake George
Close by in Lake George, those attending meetings can enjoy an array of water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, whitewater rafting and cruises, offered by the Lake George Steamboat Company. Clients with larger blocks of time can venture out to more adventurous attractions such as Adirondack Extreme, which is a high ropes and zipline course in the treetops. Thrill seekers who have brought along the kids might want to check out Six Flags Great Escape.
Those who like their feet to stay on the ground when they’re enjoying activities will have plenty to do, too. Their options include visiting Fort William Henry (a historic fort with ties to the French and Indian War), strolling through local art galleries, and taking in a few races at the nearby Saratoga Race Track and Casino. There’s venue space, too, at this 80-year-old race track, with options that include a 3,200-square-foot ballroom and a trackside restaurant.
Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, The Sagamore Resort has been around since 1883 and is considered one of the most memorable places to stay in the area. With 375 guestrooms offering views of the gardens of Green Island and more than 35,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including a 10,000-square-foot ballroom and an 11,000-square-foot exhibit hall, it’s a popular destination for corporate meetings and events. Amenities abound on the 70-acre property, including a 95,000-gallon outdoor pool, seven dining outlets, tennis and basketball courts, a soccer field and The Morgan, a 72-foot replica of a 19th century touring vessel that groups of up to 75 can book for a private tour of Lake George.
“Guests enter our lobby and look out the windows toward Lake George and immediately know they are in someplace special,” says Lori K. Rehm, director of sales for the Bolton Landing-based resort. “We have hosted both small and large meetings, and attendees love to take advantage of the area around us.”
Large groups might want to consider the 193-room Fort William Henry Resort & Conference Center, which has 16,500 square feet of space and is large enough to accommodate a 300-person meeting or host a trade show. The venue also is open to hosting groups as small as 10 in one of its more intimate meeting spaces.
Surfside on the Lake Resort is an independently owned property that feels especially welcoming and cozy. Mark Dawson, director of sales and marketing, ticks off some of the amenities. “We have 154 rooms and suites, two on-site restaurants, a private waterfront and beach, an outdoor heated pool and more,” he says. “We have several meeting and banquet spaces that can accommodate many different-sized groups. In total, we have more than 8,000 square feet of event space with our largest space measuring approximately 3,000 square feet.”
Dunham’s Bay Resort is especially well-suited for team-building. Several of its 21 hotel rooms and 20 cabins have a common kitchen and living room for communal time, as well as separate bedrooms with their own bathrooms for privacy. A private beach is across the street, and low-key, fun activities include a bocce ball court, horseshoe pit, shuffleboard, volleyball and badminton. “Our banquet dining space is very ccommodating, offering two separate dining areas for up to 50 people each and two banquet rooms for up to 100 people,” says Matt Taormino, Dunham’s general manager. “Being only minutes from downtown, the outlets and other Lake George attractions, guests are treated to a very secluded spot without much traveling.”
It’s easy to combine productivity and after-hour fun at Roaring Brook Ranch Resort. The 135-room property has 17,000 square feet of meeting space and a horseback riding program that is available spring, summer and fall and takes riders of all skill levels through miles of scenic trails near Prospect Mountain.
“The Adirondack region is an amazing place for meetings and retreats as you can separate yourself from the outside world and really concentrate as a group in some of our more rural areas,” says Katy Van Anden, co-owner of VanBe and Co., which specializes in planning and producing corporate meetings and events in the Lake Placid area. “Or, people can choose to be in the heart of our villages with all of the amenities of a more metropolitan area.”
The Adirondack Region is located in northern New York, about five hours north of New York City and less than three hours from Albany and Montreal. Sprawling across 6.1 million acres, Adirondack Park is a state park comprising 105 towns and villages, with Lake George and Lake Placid two of its most notable. There are no entrance fees.
» 60 golf courses
» 2,000 miles of hiking trails
» More than 3,000 lakes and ponds
» Nearly 12,000 campsites
» Approximately 11,000 rental rooms in hotels, motels, inns, cabins and cottages
» Larger than five national parks combined: Grand Canyon, Great Smoky, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier
» Biggest protected natural area in the lower 48
Recreational Activities for Every Season
By Shelley Levitt
The Adirondacks Region is a year-round destination. Whenever groups visit, they’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy the area’s stunning beauty as a team, with their family or on their own.
Go leaf peeping. With millions of acres of technicolor forests and the longest foliage season on the East Coast, autumn in the Adirondacks is spectacular. Grab your camera or smartphone and a few colleagues and hit the trails. Keep it mellow or make it competitive—which team will win the award for capturing the best images?
Celebrate the season’s bounty. Pick apples, navigate a corn maze, or follow the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail by bike or car to the region’s welcoming wineries and cider mills. // visitadirondacks.com/fall
Hit the slopes for skiing and snowboarding. Whiteface Mountain, also known as Olympic Mountain, has the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Gore Mountain offers 121 trails, including 11 snowshoe loops, with expert-only, intermediate and beginner terrain.
Enjoy cross-country skiing on miles of quiet trails. Traverse frozen lakes and forested glades and circle every town from Lake George to Star Lake. One of the easiest winter sports to learn, cross-country skiing is perfect for families and participants with various levels of athletic skills. // visitadirondacks.com/winter
Go whitewater rafting. As the sun hits the Adirondacks’ frozen waterways, rapids on the Hudson River reach a torrent, creating ideal Class IV and V rapids for the adventurous.
Hang with the birds. Stash a pair of binoculars and a birding guidebook in your backpack and witness the spring migration when birds flock north from sunnier climes in the south. There are more than 100 species of Adirondack birds, including boreal birds, birds of prey, perching birds and waterfowl. Alpine areas such as Whiteface Mountain and Blue Mountain Lake provide ideal viewing spots. You’ll want to hike to nesting grounds in early morning. // visitadirondacks.com/spring
Hit the water. With more than 3,000 lakes and ponds and 1,500 miles of rivers, the Adirondacks are a water wonderland. Tour the scenic coastline by boat, learn how to waterski on Lake George, paddle in a kayak, try stand-up paddle boarding, or swim on a pristine lake, placid pond or flowing river.
Take a hike. With more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails and a sun that rises just after 5 a.m. and lingers until 9 p.m., the Adirondacks are a hiker’s paradise in the summer. For an experience that will take your breath away, try a waterfall hike. Most of these hikes are easy to moderate and all are spectacular. // visitadirondacks.com/summer