Get Me to the Greek Peak

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Big Hungries! It’s the biggest food holiday of the year, and I hope each and every one of you finds lots of things beyond roasted meats, mashed potatoes, gravy and pie for which to be thankful this year. You may not be planning to get away this weekend or indulge in a big dinner out after feasting on home-cooked specialties, but winter weather is right around the corner, so I thought it would be a good week to share with you a review of the new Hope Lake Lodge at Greek Peak, in case you’re one of those merry, snow-loving, alpiney people.

My friend Lindsay, who recently moved way down to DC, enthusiastically agreed to join me last month for a fun Sunday afternoon at the Hope Lake Lodge. I met the public relations director for this new resort at a women’s conference earlier this year, and ended up on their mailing list. One recent e-mail proclaimed an open house for the Lodge’s new Waterfalls Spa. Being a lover of all spa-related activities and associated products, as well as a food blogger wanting to see what this new landmark had to offer, I was all in. So Lindsay and I left Owego mid-morning for the quick jaunt up I-81 to exit 9 (exit 10 if you’re coming from Watertown) and followed signs for Greek Peak Mountain Resort.

While I’m not the outdoorsy type, and certainly not sporty in any way, shape or form, I actually have skied at Greek Peak before. A few years back, our friends Jeff and Rose implored me to take skiing lessons there, and I must say, I had a wonderful time and didn’t fall off the mountain. I haven’t been back since, because, you know, it’s cold out when you ski. But as Lindsay and I drove by the ski area towards the imposing and beautiful Lodge, I remembered fondly how nice the facilities are at Greek Peak, even if the hills aren’t as renowned as, say, Elk Mountain or Whiteface.

The beautiful lobby fireplace at Hope Lake Lodge

Natch, we arrived early enough to grab lunch before the open house began at the spa. There are several eateries at Hope Lake Lodge, but the only one that seemed open for lunch the day we were there was the Acorn Grill, which is right off the cavernous lobby. The interior of the restaurant is gorgeously Adirondack: exposed wood beams, grand and rustic lighting fixtures and soothing, dark colors. They may have taken the theme a little too far, though, when it comes to the music being piped in over loud speakers: it was similar to the soundtrack from the Disney Pocahontas movie, but performed by some overly enthusiastic flautists. A little much.

The Lodge is geared for families, and this is evident in the menu, service and ambiance. The stemware is plastic, and the menu is pretty safe, with comfort food treats and lots of standards. We shared the lumberjack loaded fries to start our meal, and enjoyed this mass of super crispy potatoes, bacon, melted cheese and tomatoes. They were delicious, although we thought they could have used some more cheese. Well really, what couldn’t use a little more cheese?

Crispy, crunchy, cheesy

Because both Lindsay and I are big comfort food lovers, we had a tough time picking our respective entrees. I finally settled on the elk burger. I know! Elk! Very adventurous of me, if I do say so. The burger was not gamey-tasting in the slightest. I liken the flavor of the meat to smoky beef – like ground BBQ brisket with no sauce. Because the meat is very lean, I thought the fried onions and blue cheese on top were a brilliant choice. The elk for my burger is a local NYS product, which I appreciate at a place that’s probably going to churn out hundreds of plates of food a day in peak season. This sandwich was really a masterful combination of flavors, with good quality cheese and solid execution. Props to the chef at the Acorn Grill for this menu item.

Can you believe it? I ate elk!

Linds chose an old favorite of both of us: the Acorn Big Dipper AKA French dip. Again, for a family-style restaurant with a theme park feel, I was impressed with the quality of the ingredients and surprised with the finesse in this dish. While the roast beef on the sandwich could have had more flavor, it was very tender, and the accompanying au jus was so rich, there must have been demi glace in it. We also both had a side of fruit salad, which honestly got mostly ignored in the fervor for the sandwiches.

Don’t you feel sort of sorry for the melon?

After lunch, we found the beautiful new spa and immensely enjoyed the open house being hosted there. We partook of free mini-services like facials, chair massages and reflexology foot massages, as well as a tour of the new facility. It is absolutely gorgeous and state of the art. Most of the private treatments rooms have saunas in them, and all have chromatherapy, which is basically colored lights that gently modulate between soothing tones. The estheticians in the spa were all very talented, and I would certainly like to come back and enjoy a full treatment at Waterfalls. I can imagine a mom taking a welcome respite at this retreat while her hubby took the kids to Hope Lake Lodge’s indoor water park, Cascades.

Chromatherapy tub at Waterfalls Spa - Mom's water park

Before leaving the lodge, we strolled around to check out that water park, which is large and really unique for Upstate NY. We also saw into one of the rooms at the lodge, which was outfitted with the typical Adirondack-style furniture and really lovely. If I had children, I can’t imagine not wanting to bring them to Hope Lake Lodge for a fun, close-by getaway. You could ski one day and play in the water park the other. They also offer fishing, hiking, mountain biking, golf packages and mystery dinners at the resort. While the rates are by no means inexpensive, many do include ski passes, and all include passes to Cascades Water Park. So look into gathering the family together this winter for a ski weekend without having to trek all the way to Vermont or Colorado. Greek Peak Mountain Resort and Hope Lake Lodge offers a wonderful alternative to those far-away ski destinations, and happens to have some pretty good food and a top-notch spa right at its guests’ fingertips.

Most of all, have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Eat all the turkey and gravy you can, and then report back here at Big Hungry Headquarters next week, because it’s time to get your holiday shopping in gear! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

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