The Sagamore – Why Go Home?
It’s a saying you see on wooden plaques, shirts, coasters, and magnets and so many other items at so many quaint shops AKA tourist traps on Lake George. You also see gems like “collect lasting memories” (or something to that effect) and some stuff relating to day drinking. When I first started visiting Lake George (specifically Bolton Landing) with my family some five years ago, I would laugh at the sayings swag, and think nothing of it. Sure, it made for nice mementos but I never even thought of bringing anything home with me. With each passing year, however, items have come home with me. The words aren’t mere throwaway phrases, they’re morsels of wisdom that play as a narrative of what you already know. They’re also advice to cut out the worries of your everyday, and simply live in the moment by capturing each passing one. For me and my family, The Sagamore Resort, which I often refer to as the crown jewel of Lake George, is that creator of moments. It’s a memory maker, and has more “moments” as the amenities they offer.
Located on the aforementioned delightfully quaint Bolton Landing, the resort is the “wow” here. It’s been around for over 100 years, and anyone driving into it, knows that once you see that Victorian-style building, you’re in a different world. Anytime I tell friends, colleagues, and everyone in-between that I’m taking my family here, their demeanor changes. It’s the combination of a jaw-drop and “aw-shucks, wish we were going” feel. Earlier this month, we visited for our fifth straight summer. Why go again? Sure, some people asked us that. If only all questions were so simple. The Sagamore is our home away from home. It’s a cliched line but it rings true for us. In the first four years we visited, the memories were overflowing. When we first went, it was the four of us. My three-year-old boy and six-month-old son. We have three children now: seven, four, and eight months old. For adults, we cling to memories and want to create new ones. For my kids, The Sagamore is the only place they call “vacation.” We go elsewhere during the year on vacation – mini-trips. We went to Disney, too. But, vacation, by name, is this place. It’s talked about in the weeks and months after we leave. Why do we keep going back? Let me count the ways for you with some bloated context by delving back into the past again.
When we came to The Sagamore for the first time, we were instantly in love. When we entered our cabin-on-steroids (lodge suite), we made ourselves at home because it felt like home. The suite is spacious, the bathroom is immaculate, the kitchen allowed us to cook for ourselves to save some time to run down to the pool, and have moments inside it as a family as well. Then, the memories started flowing. Our son started talking more, perhaps swimming more. Our youngest son started napping more. OK, that latter statement didn’t happen. In subsequent years, our boys bonded in the sand area by the lake together, the swimming skills for both just got better (the relaxed atmosphere I know played into this), and The Rec (again, more on that later) provided opportunities for pure fun on rainy days or at night. In recent summers, my boys would gain the courage to venture into the oft-cold lake with my wife and I. Last summer, my wife, then six-months pregnant with out third and I, came up with a name for our would-be daughter. This summer, we brought her. She was close to the same age that my younger son was when we first came. Cue “The Circle of Life.” We couldn’t not have her first summer on this planet not include this magical place.
Expanding on my own experience, let’s look at the facts. The Sagamore is surrounded by the majestic lake. Everywhere you look are some of the best views ever of Lake George. The place itself is elegant and luxurious but never pretentious. The people there, as well, aren’t there to raise a nose. They’re there to chill. That’s a big deal for me. I hate feeling like I’m Julia Roberts walking into that high-end store in Pretty Woman. You don’t find that here. You find staff always willing to help. You find waiters and hosts/hostesses always willing to go the extra mile at any of their fine restaurants. The food is amazing, notably at The Pavilion and La Bella Vita (I had the steak at the latter, and I’m still trying to resurrect the taste through my Instagram photos), and the pool bar and pool-side service is the cherry on the proverbial sundae. Speaking of the pool, which offers aforementioned panoramic views of the lake, I think we all stayed there for 12-hour days.
I could go on about all that The Sagamore offers but this post is already long. For golfers, it’s a place to tee off. For many, it’s a getaway for a young couple. For some, it’s a getaway for an older couple celebrating an anniversary. It can be your wedding venue or a great place for your business conference. But, this is my piece. For me, and a constant for so many here, it’s a place for family. It’s a place to go jump in the lake. It’s a place to have a Mai Tai in the pool or watch your kids swim under water without the use of a face mask or tubes in the lake for the first time. It’s a place where your baby girl learns how to wave for the very first time. I know all of this is probably coincidence, right? You can get so many of my examples going just about anywhere? I’m not so sure. We live in such a busy, stressful world. There’s something about this lake and place that melts it away.
This summer, as I held my daughter on my lap on an Adirondack chair on the terrace, I watched the boats pass by with the sun shining and the birds chirping. Living in the moment, I was reminded of holding my then three-year-old son our first year who told me “so many water, dada.” I was reminded of my middle son the year after pointing at the boats as well. This year, I just showed her the boats and water. The next morning. I woke up to find my two sons on the deck with my wife trying to make my daughter laugh. Again, same backdrop, new memories crashing right into the older ones. Those phrases on those coasters, shirts, wooden blocks, and what have you…they’re real. That night, I bought a couple of them. They now sit on a small area leading into my children’s playroom with photos of my kids playing the pool, roasting S’mores at a singalong with Chip by the fire, hitting wiffle balls at the“Rec” – a wonderful indoor spot for kids to play mini-golf, video games, and even family bingo, and a photo I take every year of me jumping in the lake. I look at that photo, and instantly remember my kids watching on. It’s an event now by the way. “Do you want to watch me jump in the lake?”
Looking at the photos a few weeks removed from my trip, I’m reminded of plunging into the water and of The Sagamore. Everything fades. I close my eyes for a few seconds, and I instantly see the smiles on my boys faces. I remember hearing the giggles of my newborn daughter. When I open my eyes, I now see a small sign that states “collect lasting memories.” Done and done. I can’t wait to go back.