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A Cut Above

By Daniel Ladue • Photos Supplied


It snowed. OK, not much, but it snowed. Three hundred thousand Christmas lights glittered the property. A fire crackled in the fireplace. The Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa—five days before Christmas. Words like elegantly rustic and cozy come to mind. The Inn is the only hotel in the Adirondacks to achieve AAA’s Four Diamond Award of Excellence for both lodging and dining. It has been Four Diamond rated for lodging since 1984, while The View Restaurant has held this distinction the past 16 years. If there is such a thing as a fairy tale hotel, this is it.


The Inn is the most iconic hostelry in Lake Placid. Try getting reservations for Christmas dinner in December. Those have to be done by Labor Day. The hotel is one of the most beautiful in the entire Adirondacks and the go-to place for the coveted “weekend away.” What with its award-winning European spa, stylish restaurant with stunning views of Mirror Lake and simply gorgeous sitting areas, the Mirror Lake Inn is classic Lake Placid.


Long before the Miracle on Ice in 1980, Mirror Lake Inn, or at least some form of it, existed. Records only go back as far as 1924 when Climena Alford Wikoff bought an elegant old 1883 private estate above the shores of Mirror Lake, and opened the Mir-a-Lac Inn. The year 2024 marks the resort’s 100th birthday.

By the age of 17, Climena was a creative entrepreneur. She turned her family home—an old farm house on Main Street in Lake Placid—into a guest house and named it The Alford Inn.


She honed her hospitality skills at Albany Business School, and became adept at handling the business affairs of the small hotel.


The Mir-a-Lac Inn quickly became known as a high-quality resort. For a number of years, it was a summer-only facility. When word got out that the Inn would be available during the 1932 Olympics, the entire delegation from Norway rented it. At the time it was still a small inn, with a few cottages around its edges. One of the guests at the Inn that winter was 19-year-old Sonia Henie, already famous for winning the Olympic gold medal in figure skating in 1928.


From its opening, the Mir-a-Lac Inn provided a high-end experience in the Adirondacks. With its strong emphasis on sports-related innovations, it’s not surprising that the first rope tow in the area was available for its patrons. Behind the current structure was Dream Hill, likely the first ski center in the Adirondacks. It wasn’t much more than a hill, with an electricity-driven lift line that towed people to the top. Not surprisingly, it was also the first place in the Adirondacks to have the rudiments of a snowmaking machine.


Mrs. Wikoff assumed sole management of the Inn in 1933, and promptly renamed it the Mirror Lake Inn. For decades, the hotel was a rustic four-season escape amongst the woods and lakes of the northern Adirondacks. In the winter, guests enjoyed moonlit cross-country excursions on sleigh rides to a cabin in the woods. Climena set up the first skating camp in Lake Placid which attracted many of America’s best figure skaters in the 1940s and 1950s. Parties, receptions and contests were always in progress at the Inn.

Kate Smith, long known as the “first lady of radio,” made Lake Placid her summer headquarters. Until her home was built on Lake Placid, she maintained a residence in one of the outlying cottages surrounding the converted estate. During the Winter Olympics of 1980, Dick Button, who had won the gold medal in figure skating for the USA in 1952, and Toller Cranston, who took home the bronze for the Canadians in 1976, made the Mirror Lake Inn their home during the games.


That year, Ed Weibrecht, a New Jersey business executive and avid skier, scrapped his corporate life and relocated to Lake Placid. In 1977, he bought the Inn and moved it into its second generation. New management brought in new ideas, but the Inn never reduced the high standards established by Mrs. Wikoff.


Over time, two additional buildings came on line. The Terrace Building was added in 1977, while construction began on the Mountain View Building prior to the 1980 Winter Games.


Looking to the future, one of the Weibrecht’s sons, Andrew, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist in alpine skiing, stepped into the role of resort Operations Manager. He and his wife, Denja, continue to welcome hotel guests with the same level of hospitality that was established by Mrs. Wikoff and continued by Andrew’s parents. Throughout its evolution, the Mirror Lake Inn has remained an experiential destination.


“Fire Devastates Mirror Lake Inn.”

“Main Building Said Total Loss,” read the headline in The Lake Placid News on January 13, 1988. The evening before, diners in the Inn’s restaurant were enjoying a late evening’s dinner on a bitterly cold night. Inside the kitchen, staff began to smell smoke. When it became heavier, they called 911. Guests were evacuated, and firefighters worked through the -8° night. By morning, icicles hung from window boxes and ribboned the hotel’s façade. Little was left.


Not missing a beat, the Weibrechts stepped into action, moving guests into buildings in back of the inn that were not affected by the fire so vacations were not lost.


Some six months later, Mirror Lake Inn hosted dinner in its newly built dining room. By Christmas 1988, the main building had been rebuilt. The murals, painted by Averil Conwell were redone by her when she was 92 years old. They elegantly hang in the new dining area.


Like the myth of the immortal phoenix who dies in a show of flames and combustion only to be born again, the Mirror Lake Inn Resort rose from its rubble and became a magnificent hotel that continues to serve the public. Through it all, it maintained its Four Diamond rating.


As part of the phoenix rising, the Inn has continued to evolve, expanding its pool, gym and spa areas. It is now well-known as a full service, bells and whistles, European spa. Ongoing investment and reinvestment help maintain the Inn’s AAA Four Diamond status. As one of America’s Small Luxury Hotels, the Mirror Lake Inn brands itself as an authentic Adirondack experience, emphasizing its friendly staff. The hotel is a cut-above the rest.


“We are an upscale property,” stated Sandy Caligiore, Mirror Lake’s Public Relations Representative. “We enjoy a beautiful physical setting and are blessed with a great location with incredible views, but for us, it’s really the quality of our warm and friendly staff that makes the Inn so special. Our guests have come to expect a certain level of service and our staff takes great pride in exceeding those expectations.”

Those of us who live on the edge of the Adirondack Park, close to the village of Lake Placid, often take for granted what surrounds us. Consider a short stay at the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa. Good food, time-honored traditions, authenticity and hospitable service, will satisfy your winter soul. You may never want to return home.



Mirror Lake Inn

77 Mirror Lake Drive

Lake Placid, NY 12946

518 523-2544


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