All Aboard the Polar Express on the Grand Canyon RailroadDec 9, 2013
The Grand Canyon Railroad brings a classic holiday tale to life with the return of the Polar Express. Now through January 4, families can experience this themed train ride that follows the storyline of the acclaimed children’s book.
Sure the place is expensive—a two bedroom unit in peak season can be upwards of $900 a night—but I can’t even count all the activities that are included—the kids’ clubs from 3-12 (the younger ones were busy hunting for butterflies and frogs the morning I was there), the excellent breakfast (blueberry pancakes and smoked salmon from Maine), the indoor-outdoor heated pools and hot tubs, the game room with old fashioned shuffleboard, foosball, pool and ping pong. Nice touch—the library of kids books and movies to borrow.
Did I mention the movie theater that shows three different movies a day? The bowling alley with balls and bowling shoes? The Fire pits where s ‘mores are dished up every night. The stocked fishing pond full of 200 trout where even the worms are supplied… the tennis courts, basketball… yoga and other fitness classes… the fly fishing demos and the visits of naturalists (Want to hold a Bird of Prey?).
“You can relax and you can do a lot of stuff here,” said Olivia Rosenberg, 16, visiting with her family from New Jersey.
“There’s really something for everyone here,” agreed her younger sister Margo, 13.
Including the water sports at the Canoe Club a half mile down the road—of course a shuttle brings you there—where paddleboats, kayaks and canoes are yours for the asking. Twelve-year-old Colleen Joyce, here with her family from New Jersey was all smiles after kayaking for the first time. “Really fun,” she said. So was the paddle boarding.
You can be taken around Lake Placid in a Hacker Craft ($185)—I loved seeing all of the houses that ring the huge lake, many in the same families for generations. It’s 14 miles around and 100 feet deep with three islands in the middle, and accessible only by boat. You can rent a Pontoon ($165) or a ski boat for skiing and tubing ($225) or just snooze in the sun looking out at the beautiful lake, the green trees and Whiteface Mountain in the distance. Much of the land here is state park.
Lynne Kylish, here with her husband and three kids, opined that this place is as fun in the winter as the summer—the kids especially love the big ice rink on property.
“This is a wonderland for kids,” she said, especially the downstairs which offers everything form the huge game room to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor to the movie theater. “I feel like I struck gold when I found this place,” she said.
Because the units are all spacious condos in the one lodge, “you feel like you have your own place but someone else is taking care of everything,” Kylish, who is from New Jersey added. “That’s the best thing of all! It’s summer camp for grown ups!”
And no matter how busy the place, it never seems crowded—not with just 94 suites and a 40-acre property, added Karen Klemm, from Connecticut. “It’s safe enough that I feel comfortable letting the kids wander around the lodge and I don’t do that other places,” she said.
“Worth the money,” said Patrick Joyce, here with his wife and two kids from New Jersey, because everything is included—activities that could quickly run into hundreds of dollars at another resort.
Of all the guests I spoke to, only one, a man with his family here from Los Angeles while his son participated in a hockey camp, had anything negative to say—and even he admitted his complaints were rather petty (no blue cheese olives for his martini or ice coffee in the morning). “I’d come back again,” added his wife.
If you’re thinking you wish you could afford this place, come in fall when starting prices for a 1-bedroom unit that easily sleeps four is under $400 a night.
This truly is a four season resort—spectacular foliage, hiking and fishing in fall “The colors on the trees on the lake are crazy,” said Colin Fadden, who grew up here and takes us out on the Hacker Craft tour on the lake.
In winter, there’s skiing of course, as well as skating (watch the skating and hockey exhibitions in town at the Olympic rink) snowshoeing and more.
The Joyces started coming up for Thanksgiving, Patrick Joyce said, to get away from family, he joked.
“Now they’re following us here.”