Source: The Point
Source: The Point

This Rockefeller Great Camp Can Be the Winter Vacation of Your Dreams

The Great Camps of the Adirondacks were never meant for winter vacations. When they were built in the early 19th century, their owners—Gilded Age magnates from William Avery Rockefeller, to Alfred Vanderbilt, to American President Calvin Coolidge—considered them summer escapes. Upstate New York was the contemporary equivalent of the Hamptons, with glimmering lakes instead of sandy beaches and sprawling log cabins in place of supersize seaside cottages.

A few of these extraordinary lakeside homes are still available for bookings during warm-weather months. Lake Kora, the immaculately restored estate of Teddy Roosevelt’s onetime lieutenant governor, Timothy Woodruff, costs nearly $20,000 per night in peak season and can be booked only from July to October as a full buyout; properties such as the Vanderbilt-owned Sagamore and Coolidge’s White Pine Camp have become less glitzy with age, catering to locals on quick weekend trips. But the Point, the 11-room, 75-acre resort on Upper Lake Saranac once owned by William Avery Rockefeller Jr. (John D. Rockefeller's grandson) has just undergone a meticulous, multimillion-dollar restoration that makes it every bit as magical in the snow as in the sun.

A Subtle, Head-to-Toe Renovation
A Subtle, Head-to-Toe Renovation

“We wanted to make it even more original than it was when the Rockefellers owned it,” the Point’s general manager, Cameron Karger, told Bloomberg. The renovation focused on historically recreating the original design and polishing up the existing interiors—but also sharpening up the period details that even the original owners didn't pay much attention to. The elements that changed, he said, are ones that even a return visitor would struggle to pinpoint: new tile in the bathroom floors that recalls the original black-and-white basketweave, refinished woodwork in custom stains, freshly reupholstered furniture, or historically accurate windows (now with weatherproofing). “You want it to feel like it’s 1933, the Rockefellers just finished building it, and you’re invited to an opening party,” said Karger.

Source: The Point

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Most of the Relais & Châteaux hotel, including the Great Room shown here, has been open for previous winter seasons. And indeed, the holiday season brings the property to its fullest glory. “Everybody comes in summer to fall. But the regulars, they know to come back in the winter. It’s fires everywhere, toddies and hot chocolates,” said Karger. “It’s just magical.” This year marks the first season that the entire resort is available for winter bookings, with a larger roster of snowbound activities to match.

Source: The Point

The Boathouse Gets Winterized
The Boathouse Gets Winterized

The Boathouse is the Point’s most requested room—the structure is the largest of all the resorts’ stand-alone accommodations, built with beamed ceilings and a unique position above the water. (Three boat slips and a bar make up its open-air ground level.) Though it’s a beautiful backdrop for the seasonal skating rink and cross-country skiing on the lake, the building itself was never fit for winter guests: Its traditional wooden windows had always let in too much cold air. Now it's sealed tight.

Source: The Point

Inside the Boathouse
Inside the Boathouse

The Boathouse's problematic windows weren’t even original to the design, so Karger set out to replace them with traditional fittings that could also offer proper insulation. And while he was at it, he heated the whole structure and used old wirebrush techniques to accurately restain the wood floors, which had previously been painted red. “We were moving furniture around and discovered that the original floor wasn’t actually painted,” he said. It goes to show that despite the up-to-date finishes, the suite “looks more true to history now than before the renovation.”

Photographer: George Gruel

What to Do Outside
What to Do Outside

Curling on Upper Lake Saranac is “easily the most popular winter activity” at the Point, said Karger. This year, he also intends to introduce ice climbing. “There’s a cliff on one side of the peninsula, 30 feet tall with a straight face,” he explained, noting that Mother Nature would have to cooperate with his plans. Also on the docket: A new ice hut will store upgraded ice fishing equipment, and a high-tech system for snow tubing that pulls the inflatables back up to the top of the mountain after each thrilling run.

Photographer: Kindra Clineff

Cozy Up
Cozy Up

In all, there are 11 rooms on property you can retreat to after a full day outside. Weatherwatch is among the most luxurious, owing its spacious proportions to the fact that it was once the living room in the Great House. Although they’re all completely different from one another, they all have fully functional stone fireplaces. To book the Rockefellers' old bedroom, ask for the red-and-tan-themed Mohawk.

Photographer: George Gruel

No Request Too Small
No Request Too Small

The Point’s executive chef, Loic Leperlier, offers menus for all-day dining, but custom requests are taken 24/7. If you want a cheeseburger and a black-and-white milkshake at 2 a.m., an overnight butler on service will make it happen. “Just call over,” said Karger. “We’re not in the business of saying no.” 

Photographer: Nancie Battaglia

Tails at the Table
Tails at the Table

Evenings at the Point often include an option for communal dining, so guests can rub elbows with one another just as they would have in the Rockefeller era. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, black tie is required. “We get enthralled in this Downton Abbey, Great Gatsby-type of thing—we love to watch that on TV,” Karger said. “Then you put on the tux and you’re back in that era. It completes the whole experience. You feel like James Bond, like you’re really living the Rockefeller life.” The food follows suit, with ambitious, composed menu items such as this carrot salad with maple smoked salmon.

Photographer: Nancie Battaglia

Unplugged Luxury
Unplugged Luxury

The Point’s renovation was spearheaded by its new owners, a husband-and-wife couple who made a small fortune in the energy sector and has been vacationing at the resort for more than 25 years. They prefer to stay in the background, explained Karger, though they see themselves as stewards of a property with great history. “People kept asking them what they were going to change,” explained Karger, “but it was easier to say what they weren’t going to change.” The core concept will always remain: unplugged luxury, with no Wi-Fi or televisions in the rooms, and outdoor activities such as in-boat dining (pictured here) that harken back to a simpler time. “We’re not adding rooms. We’re not turning it into some profit center hotel. We want to create something special, to be the best resort in the world,” he added.

Source: The Point

Looking Forward
Looking Forward

In the coming months, more subtle changes will come to the Point. For one, the pub in the camp’s former garage will get a full makeover, reimagining it as Mr. Rockefeller’s Gilded Age man cave. Some renovations, such as window and furniture replacements, will aim for a masculine, period-appropriate vibe; others, such as an opened-up floorplan with a bay window seating nook, will warm up the space. The family’s old safe will be brought back into the space and filled with puzzles, and stained concrete will replace the old carpet floor to give the bar more of a “real garage feel.”

Photographer: Kindra Clineff

Continuing the Legacy
Continuing the Legacy

Ultimately, Karger's goal is to honor the property's history. "We want to focus on you and the things you love to create a personalized experience. It's what the Rockefellers would have had when they owned the place." Connecting to each other, and to nature, is exactly the point. "Hearing the loons on the lake and watching the sunset over the mountains, it takes you back," he said. "It’s a nice break from reality."

Photographer: Kindra Clineff