The Remarkable Sagamore…Waiting to Exhale

Photos/Jon Chattman

My older son and daughter are sitting next to each other on rocking Adirondack chairs on the deck of our Lodge Suite. I was having my morning cup of coffee and needed a refill, so I stepped away to make another cup, and my nine-year-old son took my place on the seat. As I walked back from my much-needed coffee fix, I watched from afar as the two of them were having some kind of deep conversation. I slowly walked toward the glass and screen doors that lead to the porch, which overlooks countless boats on Lake George, and made an abrupt stop. In no way was I going to disrupt this. I had heard my daughter, now 2 1/2, listening intently to what my son was telling her with frequent nodding and complete focus. “You’re going to go to school, and have math,” he explained. “And you’ll have recess.” I couldn’t make every word out but she answered him with “uh huhs,” and followed along or pretended to at least. Before long the conversation switched to Roblox, a highly addictive and annoying game (for parents to hear about anyway), and my son asked my daughter what her username might be when she’s old enough to play it and what games she’d like to test drive first. Since she’s a sponge, she answered with some solid responses. After a few minutes, I was summoned to the balcony because my younger son had a question. But that exchange between my oldest and youngest was magical. It hit on so many levels, but I’m burying the lede here.

This scene is at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing on Lake George. This has been, next to Christmas and the holiday season, THE thing my family and I look forward to each year, and have been so fortunate to have done seven times now. My daughter is now at the age that my son was when we first sat on those Adirondack chairs on the deck within a similar suite. Before I continue the narrative, my family and I are not alone in our love of this landmark hotel. It has a rich history that dates back to the 1880s. You’d also be hard-pressed to find anyone who knows or visits Lake George to not know about this place or have longed to stay here if they haven’t already. The resort, which is an official landmark and has received the AAA Four-Diamond Award, is secluded on its own 70-acre island and its accommodations serve as an oasis from the outside world. If you like to golf, there’s an 18-hole course I’ve been told is awesome. (I am physically unable to golf.) If you like to eat (who doesn’t?), the food is the best in town, and the award-winning spa is magnificent. But what makes The Sagamore “THE Sagamore” is “The Sagamore” itself. Do you follow? It’s so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s everything. It’s a postcard brought to life. Speaking of which…back to just one guy’s experience…

Exhaling…

“You deserve this” is what my dad told me before my family and I packed up the car and headed toward Lake George. Each summer has been memorable at The Sagamore, and obviously, we knew it would be once again but after this year-plus of the pandemic, we needed it to. We knew it would be. A year ago, when we traveled to this staple in our family’s lives, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. There was still a lot of worry and countless question marks. There were concerns people could be too close to us at the pool, at a restaurant, at a shop, and so on. While concerns are still very much reality, it certainly has subsided a bit, and when you factor all that everyone has gone through in the 365 days since our last trip, it was this huge release for my family and I when we arrived. It’s as if we had been holding our breath for a year only to fully exhale when we entered the entrance way to The Sagamore and crossed the bridge into the resort (it’s always a wonderful feeling to spot the white building from afar for the first time after a long drive.) I liken this year’s trip to my ceremonial plunge into the lake. I usually take my sweet time to get used to a pool if the water is too cold. I’ll stand there for as long as 15 minutes until I’m “used to it” before going in. But, not at The Sagamore. In their squared off part of the lake, I will just jump in cold turkey. I’m a workaholic and nothing sets me in the mood to relax than shocking my system in the cold lake water. It’s majestic. It’s euphoric. It’s also become sort of a tradition for me. My now three kids are always around me to watch me and egg me to go in. My wife snaps a pic every year, and I immediately flood my social media with photos of it. My friends and family are practically waiting for it each year. It’s therapy. It’s cathartic. It’s so freeing. I could go on. And that brings us back to the vacation as a whole.

This luxurious getaway has all the right amenities for any family. When we first went, we had a three year old and a baby. We’re now equipped with a nine year old, six year old, and two-and-a-half year old. The pool is legendary. Its temperature is always just right, and its panoramic views of Lake George are unmatched. It’s not even close. The poolside bar and nearby Lakehouse restaurant compliment it all. Adults can enjoy spirits and frozen concoctions, while the kiddos can have milkshakes. The pizza is awesome. The kids devour it. The lobster roll, while small (such is life for most lobster rolls), was the bees knees for me. My middle son loves the indoor pool and the warmer, smaller pool for, well, smaller kids. My daughter loves digging with her Frozen shovel and bucket so we go downstairs from the pool to a nice area where there’s sand along the lake and chairs. My sons also like it, but my oldest son would rather hop on a tube with my wife and chill out on the lake.

And there’s plenty to do at night. The restaurants, notably The Pavilion, is a winner for the entire family. My steak was delicious while my wife’s fish was fresh. If only my kids could break away from their usual chicken fingers, but I digress. The all-you-can-eat buffet at La Bella Vita, filled with an omelet and waffle station, is bananas and is totally worth those carbs. S’mores at the fire pit with live music always resonates for the whole family and is a true communal experience. On a much larger level, the kids never want to leave The “Rec,” an indoor dream for kids (and adults) to play mini-golf, ping pong, climb a rock wall, shoot billiards or basketball, and even watch a movie in a screening room upstairs. There’s also a mini baseball field where kids can play ball or try to hit home runs. My older son smashed two homers while playing with two much older kids, and gleamed when they told him “great shot!” There are tennis courts and a soccer field right outside as well. We can spend hours here, and honestly, we have. On a rainy day, it totally doesn’t matter. Usually, if you go on vacation and the weather stinks, it’s the end of the world. Not here. It also helps that our particular room, the lodge suite as mentioned, has a spacious full service kitchen so we can always cook inside and huge TVs.

As a kid, I never understood why families always went to the same place for vacation. I thought maybe they’d get bored of it. My parents took us to Cape Cod a few years in a row but it didn’t get old, but I knew kids who went their whole lives to the very same spot. I just didn’t get it. “Don’t you want to go somewhere else?,” I’m sure I asked a friend at some point, probably way too bluntly. But, I get it. Seven years deep in The Sagamore, every year has been memorable, magical, and meaningful. The last two years we’ve gone during the worst time in the world in a lifetime, and quite possibly, they’ve been the two best years we’ve had here. Remember when I called this place an oasis?

When I came here some seven years ago, I remember sitting outside with my then three-year old son. Each morning, as I drank my cup of coffee, he and I watched the boats go by together. Time can be a bullet so I remember this verbatim. He told me each morning, “look dada, so many water.” I remember those words first each time I look out from the balcony of my room at The Sagamore. This year, my daughter pointed out at the water to that same boy, now nine, and her “dad” “look…so many boats!” Going back to my point just a paragraph ago, that was the only real time I felt deja vu here. Even though we keep coming back and doing similar things, and some times the same thing, no year is the same at The Sagamore. The memories that we document by pictures and in our mind grow each year. It’s a part of us, and each year, it becomes even more special. Like a jump in the lake, it’s refreshing, it’s detoxing… it’s our home away from home.

How it started…
How it’s going…

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Jon Chattman

He once enjoyed a Reuben sandwich with Randy “Macho Man” Savage, has written eight books, hosts his own music series, and is a proud dad. He can’t ride a bike.