Mirror Lake Inn – “It’s a labour of love”
Ed and Lisa Weibrecht share a love of owning and operating Mirror Lake Inn, providing their guests with first class and unique Adirondack-themed accommodations, sports facilities and superb cuisine. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World; the Inn has received the AAA prestigious 4 Diamond rating for 27 consecutive years. Travel & Leisure Magazine has ranked Mirror Lake Inn in the Top 50 Resorts in Canada and the U.S.; and the Conde Nast Traveller reader poll includes the Spa in the Top 100 Spas for 2011.
Just after American Thanksgiving, I met with Ed and Lisa Weibrecht to discuss how they have consistently achieved high ratings for all aspects of their family-owned resort. Our conversation revealed the couple’s dedication to the pursuit of excellence, loyalty to their staff, and meeting the expectations of their sophisticated clientele.
Ed Weibrecht’s love of skiing played an important role in his life-changing decision to leave a successful career in the telecommunications industry. Ed was a successful senior executive with AT&T and then with MCI, working in New York City. “I loved to come up here most weekends to ski at Whiteface Mountain. My colleagues at MCI wanted me to move to Washington, which would be too far for weekend trips. I had to choose my career or skiing.” With a mischievous twinkle in his eye, Ed continues; “I chose skiing.”
“I moved my family up here to Lake Placid, and while I was looking for something to do, I became good friends with the Wicoff family, who owned Mirror Lake Inn. They were considering retirement, and we came to an agreement that with their advice; I would run the inn for a year; with an option to purchase it.
I gave them all the money I had – and fortunately our experiment worked. I met their asking price, we came to terms and I have had the great pleasure of building this business since 1976.”
In 1978 Ed started to build additional accommodations behind the original inn, with lovely views of the lake. “I had to generate more money to pay for the place.” he said with a chuckle.
Lake Placid has been a major training centre for winter athletes ever since hosting the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.
Lisa had come to train as a luger as a member of the Women’s National Luge Team, and then stayed on – opening a pizza and sub shop. Ed comments; “I met Lisa in 1981, and that’s when my life started to get really good…” For her part, Lisa says that when she asked her sister about accepting Ed’s offer for a date; “My sister said that I should go out with him – because nobody else would!”
Together Ed and Lisa have built Mirror Lake Inn into what has become a world-famous vacation and getaway retreat for families and couples. It has also become popular for small and medium group meetings. Lisa comments; “We have women’s groups who come for a few days of golf, spa treatments and relaxation.”
Ed and Lisa employ their own carpenters and design personnel for the ongoing renovations and refurbishing necessary to maintaining their 4 Diamond rating. “Its’ a labour of love – and it’s ongoing.” Continuing, Ed notes; “Our position is to always be out in front – to keep re-evaluating and find areas where we can improve.
“Our clients are used to the Four Seasons or Ritz Carleton. In catering to our market – we don’t compromise on their experience. We have to make a vacation at Mirror Lake Inn like air and water to our clients – to give them an experience so fulfilling that they will ‘need’ to return. Our many repeat guests are constantly complimentary about our upgrades, renovations and the cleanliness of rooms and common areas.”
“Lisa and I give the credit for our success to our staff. They make our guests feel special and important. We empower our managers to be responsible for their part of the business. In turn – they train their staff to take ownership and responsibility for their jobs.”
Ed cites a recent example; “We always sell out for Thanksgiving. The resort was full and our dining room booked to capacity. Our employees were all at work instead of being at home with their families. I went into the kitchens and was impressed by the positive buzz. Our staff was truly excited about creating a memorable meal for the guests. The food was outstanding – and it was an incredible Thanksgiving Day, thanks to the enthusiasm of our staff.”
“Ed & Lisa Weibrecht have two guiding principles in the operation of the hotel,” explains Mary Jane Lawrence, who fills the dual roles of Spa Manager and Marketing Manager.
“They’re equally important – the first being to constantly invest in upgrading and refurbishing the entire property.
The second is Ed and Lisa’s commitment and investment in the staff.” For guests, this is a winning combination, and explains the high level of repeat business for families and couples.
Guest rooms are large and comfortable with Adirondack accents. All of the 100 rooms have post card views of the mountains and Mirror Lake, and most have balconies. There are 31 spacious suites (some with spectacular bathrooms and Jacuzzi tubs for two) situated with adjoining rooms; making them ideal for family reunions.
For jaw-dropping luxury, the Mirror Lake Inn offers truly exceptional Classic, Signature and Ultimate Suites, the latter collection in the Lake Cottage and Colonial House lakefront buildings. These spectacular accommodations include the two storey Presidential and Cascade Suites. Lisa Weibrecht lets her designer imagination soar, and the fulltime carpenters make those dreams a reality; to the great satisfaction of the Inn’s guests.
The Main Building’s Living Room and adjacent Library each feature a large fireplace, comfortable furniture and sitting areas ideal for enjoying a warm fireside read. Afternoon tea and coffee are served daily from 3:30 – 4:30 along with home-made chocolate chip cookies.
The View is the Inn’s famous dining room, open for breakfast and dinner. For the past three years, The View has also earned a Four Diamond award for excellence. Chef Jarrad Lang purchases from local meat, produce and cheese producers.
“We visit with the local farmers regularly and have developed great relationships with them as suppliers. It not only keeps money in the community, it enables us to serve our guests really fresh produce. In the ground in the morning and on your plate in the evening!”
We enjoyed a truly magnificent meal in The View, which gets its name from the panoramic views overlooking Mirror Lake. Wine lovers will be pleased to know that The View has an extensive wine list – perhaps better described as a wine book. Dinner in The View is a fine ending to a full day of activities and Adirondack fresh air.
Taste Bistro is a cozy bar set adjacent to The View, and offers a little more casual dining experience, with all the menu items prepared in the same kitchen under the watchful eye of Chef Lang. A popular feature is “30 Wines for under $30”.
The Cottage is a pub-style restaurant located on the waterfront, offering lunch and dinner. We enjoyed a terrific pub meal at a cozy table overlooking the lake. The Cottage has a deck that is popular in all seasons, with an outdoor fireplace providing warmth during the winter. A private skating rink is cleared just steps down from The Cottage – not too far to return for a warming cup of hot chocolate.
The resort has a well-equipped fitness centre in the Main Building, a spa and salon, and 60 foot indoor pool with adjacent whirlpool and saunas. The pool has a unique Adirondack setting with a waterfall at one end. Floor to ceiling windows let guests appreciate the indoor warmth, regardless of the weather outside.
Spa services include a variety of massages (with a suggestion to specify your problem areas), facials, and body treatments. The well-qualified staff is dedicated to having you relaxed and rejuvenated – the better able to enjoy the inn and the activities in Lake Placid.
During the winter, Mirror Lake Inn has a magical quality for all ages. Over 300,000 lights illuminate the inn’s exterior, sparkling on the crisp snow. There is ample cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing, with outstanding downhill skiing for the whole family at nearby Whiteface Mountain.
Mirror Lake Inn is a uniquely special place; the kind of resort where happy memories are made, a place that draws guests back again and again. As Ed Weibrecht says ‘like a need for air and water’.
Mirror Lake Inn is located in Lake Placid, about 2.5 hours from Montreal. Most of the drive is on I-87, followed by a pleasant drive on 9 North that takes you along the Ausable River and then onto Route 86 past Whiteface Mountain. The resort has an excellent website with an impressive photo gallery: www.mirrorlakeinn.com
You’ll find a selection of packages for couples and families on the website. Winter packages include one and two night ski packages, a 3 for 2 Spa Package, and the popular Experience the View package that includes a candlelight dinner for two and full Adirondack breakfast. Ask about the hugely popular Adirondack Food and Wine Festival in April. For more information, please call: 518-523-2544
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