Towards the end of the 19th century, a number of America's leading families built vacation retreats in one of the most pristine, naturally beautiful parts of the country - the lake-dotted Adirondack National Park. These retreats were like sprawling "forest villas" and provided a gathering place for the owners' extended families to spend their summers in total privacy and quiet, away from the hubbub of their city homes. Three of these Adirondack "Great Camps" (owned by the Rockefellers, the Woodruffs and the Astors) were finer than the others, and the one on the shore of Lake Kora (built for the Woodruffs and for a time owned by the Vanderbilts) was by far "...the most picturesque and most completely furnished."
For 2007, for the first time, the owner of Lake Kora will allow a limited number of rentals to families, extended families or groups of close friends. Up to 22 guests at a time can have the exclusive use of this great camp, and 1,000 acre private reserve, in the Adirondack Park.
The camp is on 1,000 stunningly beautiful, wooded acres and its main lodge and surrounding lodges overlook the largest of the camp's three lakes, Lake Kora. It is a one-and-one-half hour drive west of Lake Saranac, and just over two hours from the Albany, Syracuse or Utica airports. Lake Kora's location is so totally secluded that the only sounds, other than from its guests, are the soft whistle of the wind through majestic pines, the gentle lapping of the water on the Boathouse dock or, when the sun goes down, the melancholy calls of the loons on the lake.
The camp's original log-structure lodges, with wide, shaded porches, are clustered by the lake. The architect, John Russell Pope, created a rambling and charmingly asymmetrical Main Lodge with guest accommodations, dining areas and a library, a Boathouse with additional accommodations, a most private cabin on an island in the lake, a lakeside Gardener's Cottage and an additional guest cabin. In all, there are accommodations for 22 guests; if children are part of the group, the capacity is slightly higher. All accommodations have fireplaces for the cool evenings, ensuite bathrooms, and all those except the Main Lodge rooms have ensuite kitchens as well. Much of the original furniture, including beds, are crafted of peeled tree limbs and branches; one of the most spectacular pieces, in the Tree House, is a headboard made of an entire tree with a stuffed owl perched in its upper reaches.
The lake is bound to be the focal point for many of the daytime guest activities. At the Boathouse is a wide variety of watersports equipment: canoes, small sailboats, row boats, a pedal boat and fishing equipment. Circling the lake, right at its shore, is a lovely walking path for scenic meandering or, for the ambitious and quick, 45 minutes of good exercise; other walking and hiking paths, including one to Green Top (the highest point at Lake Kora) take guests by winding brooks, through towering pines and across wide meadows. And right by the Playhouse is Lake Kora's tennis court, lighted for night play, and a softball field used for several years by the New York Yankees for spring training! Inside the Playhouse is ping pong, and at the Main Lodge is the original Adirondack-style pool table; numerous board games are also available for rainy day or nighttime enjoyment. Two other indoor amenities that have been favorites of owners and their guests since the camp's inception are a two-lane bowling alley, and a squash court.
There is so much to do at Lake Kora, and it is so supremely serene, that most guests spend all their time within the Camp. However, less than 30 minutes from the Camp is the Adirondack Museum, in the village of Blue Mountain. This remarkable facility is comprised of 20 buildings on 32 acres of grounds and gardens and includes authentic old cabins from the Great Camp era, exhibits on logging, mining and Adirondack furniture making. Also in Blue Mountain is the Adirondack Center for the Arts which has an active summer schedule of folk, classical and ethnic music, classes for children and adults, and art galleries. Forty minutes away, on the Fulton chain of lakes, there is the interesting little town of Old Forge with its idiosyncratic hardware store. Just outside the gates of Lake Kora is Sagamore, the former Vanderbilt estate. For the more active, there is a wonderful trail up Blue Mountain, less than a half-hour away.
Meals at Lake Kora reflect the traditions of the great American summer and feature such classics as lamb roast with apple stuffing, grilled trout marinated in orange honey sauce, grilled summer squash, our original Waldorf salad and, for those who crave all-American desserts, strawberry shortcake, our infamous apple pie sweetened with maple syrup, s'mores toasted at the campfire right on the shore of the lake, and the Camp's own chocolate walnut fudge.
Imagine waking up to the aromas of the fluffiest wild blueberry pancakes with the camp's own Adirondack maple syrup. Or roll out of bed and head downstairs to your cabin's own kitchen for some eggs and bacon just the way you want them. Lunch one day might be at the end of a hike to Green Top, taking in the expansive views over the Great Adirondack wilderness. Dinners are often served in the rustic grandeur of the Main Lodge. The Lodge's cook will work with you to fit the menus of hearty American food to your family's tastes. Nothing is fancy here at Lake Kora but you will never leave the table feeling less than heartily fed.
The daily rate for the exclusive rental of Lake Kora, for a family or group of up to 12 guests, is $14,000. That rate is all-inclusive of all food, non-alcoholic beverages, and all activities on the property. Additional guests over 12 are charged at $500 per guest per day.