Back in the day William A. Rockefeller Sr. built one terrific lodge for entertaining, fishing, and hunting in Upper Lake Saranac. “Big Bill,” as he was known to both pals and frenemies, fashioned his Great Camp in what later came to be called the Adirondack style- a pleasing combination of rustic and luxe.
Situated on 75 acres of verdant forest and pristine lake waters, Rockefeller’s original Camp Wonundra is now The Point, a gracious, country house resort. The original four structures, built from native stone and logs, offer contemporary guests a choice of 11 rooms, each one different with names like Evensong, Weatherwatch and Iroquois.
The Point doesn’t advertise, there are no signs to show the way, and drop-in looky-loos cannot be accommodated. We had made arrangements in advance for a visit and property tour.
We arrived at 2 PM for a late-ish lunch and were greeted at the gate by Megan, the energetic, pretty General Manager. Buddy, apparently her second whip, was with her.Together, they guided us into the 30X60 Great Hall in the Main Lodge.
“Here’s where we meet for cocktails and an 8 pm group dinner.” Megan said pouring us each a chilled flute of Tattainger Champagne.
“Group dinner?” My sis went into panic mode. “Uh, how does that work?”
Megan explained that when the property was full there might be 22 guests. Two round dining tables, each seating 11 would be set with one “facilitator” from the resort at each. In the manner of all great party hosts, the facilitator sees that conversation is enjoyed by all.
“Hmmm, I imagine your clientele is quite sophisticated,” Sis remarked. “Do guests really enjoy this? It sounds rather communal.” It was apparent that communal suppers were not high on her list.
Megan gave an easy laugh. “Actually, people love it. We have such engaging guests from all walks of life; We talk books, music, politics, sports, history. People genuinely seem thrilled to dis-connect from their electronic appendages to relax and enjoy divine food and drink plus good, old fashioned interesting conversation. Loads of fast friendships have developed which may be a strong reason for our huge return rate.”
Buddy sort of gave sis a quizzical look as if to say: who doesn’t like to meet new fun people?”
By now we were more than ready to tuck into some of this wonderful edibles and potables. As we stepped aboard the classic 33ft. mahogany Hackercraft, Megan called over her shoulder, ” I thought I’d take you for a spin around the Lake while you enjoy the special lunch Chef prepared.”
After more Champers, a divine Caesar salad with shaved truffles, a perfect slice of rare entrecote and a zesty lemon soufflé finish, we were ready with more questions.
“Which is your favorite season here?” Sis asked.
“I love them all,” Megan answered, “and I’m truly not just spouting the party line. In fall, the air is so crisp, the leaves are amazing, and it’s a great time for hiking, biking, bonfires and boating. In winter, we cross country ski, toboggan, snowshoe and enjoy games like darts, pool, and checkers. We even have a puzzle competition! I usually suggest spending one night cuddled up in your room with dinner brought in, enjoying a crackling fire followed by a massage. In warm weather we fish, a staff member will take guests out on a private outboard to catch, then cook fresh bass, pike or trout. We picnic on our private island, water ski, play tennis or golf, maybe go for an evening cocktail cruise and watch the sunset. You just name it and it’s our pleasure to provide it.”
I asked Buddy his numbero uno fave. He rolled his eyes as if to communicate, “Here, it’s all good.”
Too soon we were back. I mentioned to Megan that I had three girlfriends looking to celebrate a big birthday next year. What would she suggest?
Her eyes lit up. “You just tell me when, and I’ll take care of everything. We can do Pajama Night and the girls can eat in cozy flannels, watch an old movie, sing around the piano, cook, gossip laugh and catch up. Next day I’ll have Chef prepare a gourmet picnic, I’ll take them on a breathtakingly beautiful hike, then naptime or more outdoor activities. Later, we’ll meet in the Great Hall for an elegant seven course dinner- this may even turn into an annual getaway!
I whisper to sis,” Wow-sounds great.”
She says -sotto voce- back to me, ” I know, but how much does it cost?”
Megan, or maybe it was Buddy, had sharp ears because, not missing a beat, Megan informs us that everything at The Point is included. Beginning at $1200 for two per night it may not be a steal, but I did the math, and it certainly is fair. Add up the cost for superior lodging, boat rental, ski rental, hiking guide, eating like a Queen while drinking like a Fish, plus no pre-determined check in check out time plus an easy possibility of 5 delish meals and suddenly, it’s not so bad.
“Big Bill” Rockefeller apparently was a guy who knew how to party. His idea of “camping” seems perfect to me. We told Megan to keep a light on for us.
She smiled, Buddy gave a woof woof and we all said goodbye for now.
For details and lots more pretty pictures