June 2007 Issue
Resort areas known for winter sports also provide great summer vacations, from family fun to spa respites and golf getaways.
Like versatile actors, some resorts play many roles. If they divert you with ski slopes in winter, they may also delight you with hiking trails, whitewater and fairways in summer. In western Pennsylvania and western New York, several resorts head the bill of vacation centers that strut their stuff all year long.
From Skis to Tees
At Holiday Valley in Ellicottville, New York, summer fun begins where winter sport ends - at the base of the ski slopes. That's where you can tee off on the resort's 18-hole, par 72 golf course. Holiday Valley offers several golf packages. Depending on the plan, deals include cart rental fees and on-site lodging with a continental breakfast and dinner vouchers. July 10–12, the resort holds Junior Golf Camp for kids 8–18.
If you want to head for the hills, sign up for the mountain bike and trail events scheduled throughout the summer. But start training now. Some of the courses - Roots, Rocks and Ridges, for example - rank as the most difficult in the state. For a more leisurely look at the mountain greenery, set out on the Ellicottville section of the Finger Lakes Trail.
If exercise leaves the vacation athlete stiff, go for a deep-tissue, Swedish or sports massage at Sunrise Massage at the Holiday Valley Inn. Get glowing with a full-body seaweed or herbal wrap, a body exfoliation or a facial treatment.
The chalet-style Hearth Restaurant is the place to end an active day with a satisfying dinner. Start, perhaps, with a Thai crab cake, and then try spicy Cajun shrimp Alfredo or, better yet, Ellicottville Chicken. The latter features a breast of chicken sautéed with an onion sauce made with an Ellicottville Brewing Company microbrew.
Two major outdoor entertainment events play out on Holiday Valley's slopes the weekend of June 30. On the 30th, the Buffalo Philharmonic takes off with a "Superheroes and Legends" concert, flying through the film scores for "Batman," "Superman" and "Spiderman." At the end of the night, it's "Look! Up in the Sky!" for a fireworks exhibition. On July 1, two of the most famous rock groups from the '70s, Eric Burden and the Animals and Starship (with Mickey Thomas), cut loose.
The Inn at Holiday Valley offers on-site lodging complete with indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, sauna and fitness center. Rooms and suites can be booked as part of recreational packages.
Ready, Set, Let Go
If you must, keep busy all weekend at Peek'n Peak in Findley Lake, New York. The resort has two golf courses, miniature golf, indoor and outdoor pools and a fitness center. But why not surrender to the temptations of the resort's rooms, spa and dining?
Peek'n Peak's new day spa offers enough treatments to fill a weekend. Start with a facial and a detoxifying earth clay, Asian ginger and white tea body wrap. Then have a masseur apply aromatic oils and smooth, gently warmed basalt stones to those stressed-out neck and back muscles. An innovative "Facials for Teens" session addresses teenagers' complexion problems.
"A lot of teens are here golfing," says Kelly Sholtis, spa director, "and parents are letting their children become involved in spa activities. So we wanted to come up with something especially addressed to the needs of this group."
Dining at Peek'n Peak should satisfy every palate. During the day you can get gourmet coffees, sandwiches and desserts at Jody's Java. Pizzaiolo's Italian Eatery serves wood-fired-oven pizza. Dinner in the handsome Royal Court Dining Room should have diners bowing to their chef for entrees such as Americana pasta (shrimp, scallops and sautéed mushrooms in lobster cream sauce) and Jamaican bones (babyback ribs glazed with Caribbean barbecue sauce). From week to week the bounteous Sunday brunches in the Royal Court take on different flavor accents - Mexican, Italian, American heartland.
For entertainment, the Regency Pub schedules live bands. But if you just want to kick back and rest, Peek'n Peak's Swiss chalet lodge houses standard rooms as well as suites with balconies and/or fireplaces.
If you can tear yourself away from all the creature comforts, explore Findley Lake and other surrounding communities. You can boat and fish on the picturesque lake or visit the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Museum in nearby Jamestown. Arts flourish in Chautauqua. This summer Chautauqua Opera's schedule ranges from "Carmen" to "Once Upon a Mattress." The Fredonia Opera House, a meticulously restored 1891 theater, programs a full slate of film, stage and musical attractions.
To learn more about Peek'n Peak, call 715/355-4141 or visit www.pknpk.com
Highland Hot Spots
Among year-round resorts, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, an hour southwest of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, is especially kid- friendly. You can turn the brood loose to enjoy swimming, picnics and hayrides. Riding the Alpine Slide, a dry double-track descending 1,980 feet, makes a great subject for a what-I-did-this-summer essay when kids return to school. Bowling, miniature golf and swimming in the indoor pool provide rainy-day activities. The resort also schedules weeklong outdoor-adventure overnight camps. Activities include rock climbing, scuba diving and mountain biking.
"Kids build up confidence and camaraderie," says Jamie Forys, manager of the adventure programs. "We have kids returning year after year. They learn that everybody's good at something."
Grown-ups can cast for trout, bass and the occasional bluegill on the resort's lake (fishing is catch and release only). Twenty hiking and biking trails, suitable for all fitness levels, track through the resort's verdant hills.
Dinner at Helen's, a rustic, 65-year-old stone and timber lodge, brings the day to a warm close. After that, raise a stein and enjoy acoustic music in the Bavarian Lounge or dance in the Mattterhorn Lounge.
Seven Springs offers a choice of accommodations. You can let the staff pamper you at the Main Lodge Hotel, or you can do your own cooking in a condo, chalet or cabin.
For day and evening excursions away from the resort, book dinner and a show at the Mt. Playhouse in Jennerstown. One of the oldest professional summer theaters in the United States, the Playhouse delights audiences with comedies and musicals. This summer brings "The Foreigner," a riotous comedy that sets federal agents loose in Appalachia, and "42nd Street," a joyous musical that sets dancers tapping across the stage. Like the Playhouse, the adjacent Green Gables Restaurant is a log cabin, flagstone structure. Elegant meals can start with a mushroom bisque with truffle foam followed by classic entrees - pork tenderloin, grilled rib eye and smoked chicken. Book a table with a view of Stoughton Lake and the Laurel Highlands hills.
For years, two Frank Lloyd Wright structures - Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob - have drawn visitors to the Laurel Highlands. This summer another of the famed architect's homes opens here. For nearly a half century, Wright's Duncan House stood in Illinois where it was built in 1957. This prefab or "kit" house contained an open living-dining area centered on a stone fireplace, a classic feature of Wright's designs. The 2,200-square-foot structure now stands in Polymath Park where it will be available for lodging and occasional tours.
"The home will be one of only four Frank Lloyd Wright designs in the country where you can stay and experience the unique Wright lifestyle," says Tom Papinchak, CEO of Polymath Park.
Something Old is Something New
In southern Pennsylvania's Alle-gheny Mountains, known for ski slopes and cross-country ski trails, the Bedford Springs Resort boosts the region's reputation as a year-round vacation destination when it re-opens in mid-June.
The history of the Bedford Springs Resort stretches back over 200 years. Construction of this grand hotel began in 1804. One of the buildings, the Colonnade, a pillared, antebellum edifice, drew guests (including four U.S. presidents) who came to take the mineral-rich waters of Bedford County in southern Pennsylvania.
After World War II, the property deteriorated markedly despite its landmark status. But now, fresh from a $90 million renovation, the hotel pampers guests again. Joining the main Colonnade building will be the Spring Eternal Spa building. Rooms and suites in both buildings befit a luxury hotel. Dark wood furnishings follow colonial designs, marble floors and countertops grace bathrooms, and Wi-Fi and iPod docks and large-screen, high-definition TVs are at the ready.
"We wanted to preserve the historical nature of the rooms, in keeping with the history of the hotel and the region," says Rikki Bopari, the resort's general manager. "We used mismatched pieces of furniture, such as nightstands and headboards."
The resort's Spring Eternal Spa will become one of the few spas in the country to use natural spring water. The 30,000-square-foot spa will offer the "Bedford Cure," which uses local herbs, minerals and water.
Guests have several dining options. The Frontier Tavern serves casual lunches, offering Pennsylvania beers brewed with artesian spring water. Dinner is in the 1796 Room or the more formal Crystal Dining Room, which has an open kitchen. A sommelier stands ready to assist diners in making selections from the wine cellar.
Bedford Springs boasts one of the oldest golf courses in the country, which has been restored to its original layout. The course affords splendid views of the Allegheny Mountains and features bent-grass tees and plush greens.
The hotel also housed one of the country's first indoor swimming pools, filled with water from the Bedford's mineral springs. The pool and its outdoor counterpart have been given million-dollar facelifts.
And for outdoor pursuits, there's trout fishing in Shober's Run Creek and 25 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails. The trails have a historic pedigree. Many of them were cleared and used by Native Americans and westward-bound settlers.
In the verdant Cumberland Valley, visitors easily find other attractions to fill a day or an afternoon. At Old Bedford Village you can tour 38 restored colonial buildings where costumed artisans do coppering, quilting and blacksmithing. Also worth a visit is the Fort Bedford Museum, which is housed in a stockade the British built in 1758 during the French and Indian War. On display are Native American artifacts, flintlock rifles and handheld tools dating back two centuries.
By far the best way to see the bucolic valley is to follow the Covered Bridge Trail. There are 14 bridges in all, their spans ranging from 56 to 136 feet. Take a good look and think of them next January when fluffy white snow blankets the valley.
For information about Bedford Springs Resort, phone 814/623-8100 or visit www.bedfordspringsresort.com