by Jackie Perrin
Set in the heart of central New York’s snow country, Hope Lake Lodge & Conference Center is a fun-filled getaway for families, offering a weatherproof indoor escape along with easy access to four seasons of active outdoor fun, including winter time skiing, tubing and snowboarding at Greek Peak Mountain Resort — a Finger Lakes family favorite since 1958.
Opened in December 2009, and overlooking Greek Peak and the Virgil Valley, the five-story Northwoods style water park resort offers 106 condominium-style accommodations, available in nine configurations. Select units offer family-friendly features like bunk beds, living rooms and full kitchens.
Hope Lake Lodge bears a striking resemblance to the Great Wolf Lodge chain, with its Northwoods decor and massive indoor water park (41,000-square feet). But this family-friendly resort has a few additional tricks up its sleeve that sets it apart from its competitor: its Adventure Center, which lets kids and adults find their thrills on high-adrenaline zip line rides through the forest or hurtling down the hill at 25 miles-per-hour in a mountain coaster; and the Greek Peak Ski Resort, where wintertime visitors can slip and slide in snow tubes, snowboards or skis down the slopes.
Recreational activities and a childcare center are offered at both the Lodge and the adjacent ski resort, and those looking for expanded entertainment options can schedule a visit during a special event weekend. Regularly planned activities range from children’s theater productions to food and wine events, and holiday times bring with them a fresh array of family fun, like laser tag and clown appearances.
While there’s plenty to do and see beyond this resort — with the Finger Lakes’ wineries, scenery and activities beckoning — you’ll find that you (and your kids) can easily spend your entire visit enjoying the charms of the resort. Especially if your kids love to splash!
Our Editor Loves
- Year-round water park fun
- Easy access to Greek Peak Mountain Resort and outdoor family adventure
- Sizeable suites with full kitchens
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
Reflecting a back-to-nature ambiance, accommodations at Hope Lake Lodge fittingly embrace the surrounding scenery. Guests enjoy views of scenic Greek Peak in one direction and the picturesque Virgil Valley in the other. Light fixtures, wall art and decorative pillows feature wildlife images like bears, birds, moose and fish. Abundant woodwork and rustic furniture smartly contrast with fluffy duvets and gleaming appliances. Distinctive touches, like bunk beds and "bear cub" footstools, provide a special welcome to junior travelers.
Hope Lake Lodge is an all-suite hotel, with spacious rooms that offer a fireplace (or fireplaces in larger suites), and nice-sized kitchens equipped with refrigerators, stoves, microwaves and dishwashers, along with all the basic cookware and dishes. Accommodations are available in nine layouts ranging from 426-square foot studios which sleep up to four, to large two-bedroom, three-bathroom suites which sleep up to 10.
The hotel's studios are the smallest suites, including a bed, kitchen with eating area, foldout couch, and a full bath. The largest suites, measuring in at 1,277 feet, include a patio or balcony, two bedrooms and three baths -- perfect for a larger group.
Loft and bunk bed rooms with multiple bathrooms are a great option for larger families and those with older kids. Families traveling with smaller children might consider a single floor or traditional layout. Bunk beds feature a partial rail and a flat-screen TV on the upper bunk. Reduce the likelihood of sibling squabbles in advance by scheduling a mid-stay bed swap.
We just returned from the Christmas Extravaganza Weekend with another family. This was our first time at the resort and we had a blast! The resort was decorated beautifully and there were so many activities for the kids... sleigh rides, real reindeer, Santa, movies, crafts, etc. The kids also enjoyed the water park and the outdoor pool which was not busy at all. The food was also delicious! My only complaint is that our room (402) didn't have hot water. It was luke warm. We are looking forward to our next visit!
Hope Lodge was like walking into a Hallmark Movie. The decor was beautiful! The staff was wonderful! We had a awesome weekend celebrating my sons 14th birthday! From the heated outdoor pool and hot tub, the sleigh ride, the Christmas activities and the food. Not to mention the ski mountain and the adventure park! We did a weeks worth of activities and fun in one weekend! Definitely will come again!!
Cascades Indoor Water Park
You can catch a wave at this 40,000-square-foot water park, whether you want to speed down a three-story-high tube water slide or roll along in the wild wave pool. Toddlers have a one-foot-deep wading pool with a mini slide and swing, while preschoolers and grade school aged kids (and actually kids of all ages) can enjoy the splashing and squirting fun of the Big Bear Falls, with smaller slides, water guns and a massive deluge of water poured from the bucket up top. For the rest of the crew there's a special "sports" pool with basketball hoops, an outdoor pool that's open even when the snow flies and features spectacular views of Virgil Mountain, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, and four massive slides in the Rapids (made for kids and adults 48 inches tall and up).
The more intimate size of this water park makes it relatively easy to keep tabs on more than one kid at a time, and the attentive lifeguards make sure everyone stays safe, even if you have to turn your back for a second. (And since there's only one entrance in and out, you might even be able to catch a break on one of the park's lounge chairs next to the entrance.) The hotel provides flotation vests, tubes and towels, so all you need to pack is your suit and you'll be ready for fun.
The park is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday (with weekday mornings offering a more limited number of attractions), and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays -- leaving plenty of time for enjoying the park's charms.
The Adventure Center features outdoor thrills year round, including a massive ropes course, high-flying zip lines, year-round tubing, and a mountain coaster that combines the features of an alpine slide and roller coaster, whipping you around curves and dips in the mountain at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Most of the activities are appropriate for kids 6 and up, while a few (such as the tubing and the mountain coaster) allow kids as young as 3 if accompanied by an adult. Each activity costs an additional fee; you can pay a la carte or spring for an "Adventure Ticket," which gives you full day access to the Mountain Coaster, the Euro Bungee and either the Zip Line or the Aerial Course.
For the 6 and under crew, a purchased ticket gets them all-day access to the Cub Club Playland, soon to offer a bounce house, swing set and kiddie rides.
Bearfoot Den Children's Activity Center
Little ones can play with an array of toys, while older kids can make crafts, play Wii or sign up for an evening recreation session at this kids' room -- located on the first floor of the Lodge. Two-hour night sessions for kids' ages 4 to 12 range in theme from "Pajama Jam" to "Hideaway Scavenger Hunt." These programs include an activity, a snack and sometimes dinner. Parents are welcome to visit the Center with the kids for free, and an adult must accompany children under 12 years old. Special half- and full-day rates are also available. Center hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends. Advanced recommendations should be made at least a day ahead, but book earlier to ensure a sitter is available when you need one.
Bring your kids' best pajamas so they can head down to the 8 p.m. story time in the lobby every evening.
At this sizable arcade located next to the indoor water park (you'll have to walk through the arcade to get to the water park, so expect your kids to beg to test their skills on the various games as you pass by) your kids can play over 30 modern games, then trade in prizes for take-home treats like star-shaped glasses, movie clappers or giant Pixie Stix. Plan on spending a good amount of time here -- it's a kid magnet. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Disc Golf Course
At the concierge desk, purchase passes for play at a nine-hole disc golf course.
Purchase a pass and earn access to a variety of special seasonal recreational activities, from sleigh rides in winter to bounce house fun in warm weather months.
Hiking and Mountain Biking
Set out on foot or rent a mountain bike and explore the resort's Nordic trails and Tuller Hill State Forrest. Guided hikes depart regularly -- consult the resort activities guide for current times. Available in spring, summer and fall, hourly mountain bike rentals are available including bikes with training wheels. Helmets are included and half-day and full-day rentals are available. Rental hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily in season.
Hope Lake Park
Follow a scenic footpath from the resort to Hope Lake Park, a public town park offering a swimming beach, boat rentals and fishing. Admission is free with a resort wristband. Visitors can rent boats and fishing poles by the hour. Volleyballs and basketballs can be checked out at the concierge desk for use at onsite courts. Bring your own sunscreen, beach blanket and sand toys. The park is open daily from July to Labor Day and on weekends in May, June, September and October.
Greek Peak Mountain Resort
Avid skiers as well as novices will enjoy affordable rates, six aerial lifts and 32 trails (over half open for night skiing). The resort's Junior Ski and Ride program allows kids ages 3 to 14 to start learning how to ski and snowboard. Newbies start out in "Magic Carpet Land," a ski bowl that makes it easy to get up and go before kids are ready to hit the easy slopes. Private or group ski lesson packages are available.
While not as extensive amenity-wise as some larger Northeastern resorts, the family-owned and family-run facility offers an attractive array of options and activities bound to entertain any winter visitor. This includes a six-run Tubing Park, an Adaptive Center for guests with disabilities and a full Nordic Center, which offers groomed cross-country paths, snowshoe trails, lessons and rentals.
For little ones who aren't yet ready to brave the slopes, the ski resort offers a babysitting service, though you'll need to book your spot there at least 24 hours in advance. Also onsite are fitting services and an in-house cafe. At the original A-Frame lodge, there's a casual teen hangout featuring a small arcade and snow sports videos.
The hotel's main restaurant, Acorn Grill, serves standard American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including silver dollar pancakes with a choice of chocolate chips or blueberries for breakfast, and familiar fare including mac-and-cheese, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, pizza, spaghetti and PB&J for lunch and dinner. Side choices are refreshingly nutritious and include fruit salad, yogurt and a granola bar, while smile-shaped fries lend special kid appeal. A member of the Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, the restaurant features locally sourced foods, wine, beer and spirits. Service can be a bit on the slow side though, and the restaurant didn't provide crayons and paper for the kids when we visited, so be sure to bring some sort of entertainment to keep the kids occupied while they wait for their food. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Set at the indoor waterpark, this casual spot features quick fare like hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, salads and subs. Drinks and snacks such as smoothies and nachos are also served. Margaritas and other frozen adult drinks are available, and ice cream novelties can be found in a nearby freezer case. In addition to a seating area in the cafe, dining tables are in an observation area just above the Wave Pool and on the outdoor pool patio. High chairs are available. Since no outside food is allowed at the water park, the Cafe is your only option for a quick snack for hungry kids who want to quickly get back to the action.
Located off the Main Lobby, this comfortable lounge is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and regularly features live music.
Order breakfast, lunch, dinner or apres-ski treats from Acorn Grill for delivery to your resort accommodation. There's no surcharge for the service -- only a nominal delivery fee and an optional gratuity apply. Room service is available all day and night.
Greek Peak Ski Resort Dining
Expand your dining options at Greek Peak Mountain Resort, where choices include a casual pizza kitchen, a seasonal outdoor smokehouse and a full-service kid-friendly pub with free Wi-Fi.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
DVD rentals are available at the front desk and a coin-op laundry room is located on the first floor.
From free Friday night pajama story times in Lobby Loft to complimentary board and card games to regular clown appearances, there are a number of fun activities offered at the resort. Check the hotel's calendar for details on what's available each day, from handy crafts in the lobby to S'mores around the campfire. Some are offered for free while others require a small payment. At holiday times, special activities like laser tag and bounce houses add kid appeal, while unique offerings like children's theater productions and junior lifeguard classes provide enrichment and boost occupancy. Staff is especially friendly and helpful, and depending on your family travel style, the welcoming atmosphere can easily elevate a guest experience from fun-filled to fantastic.
The Lodge issues wristbands to all guests, which gets you access to the water park and fitness center and even buzzes you into your rooms, which means you don't have to worry about losing a room key in the wave pool. You can also put money onto the wristband's RFID device, allowing it to be used for room purchases -- a boon if you want to give your teens a little freedom without giving them carte blanche to charge to your room. To charge, make sure your entire party is present at check-in time.
In Evergreen Gift Shop, guests can purchase their own "Brandy the Two-Tone Cinnamon Bear" footstool to take home, and themed gift baskets -- from "Movie Night" to "Fireside Treat" -- can be ordered in advance for in-room delivery.
If you're looking to get a little more fit before you slip into your suit for a run down the slide, the hotel does offer a fitness center featuring a range of Precor equipment and is open 24-7 with a flick of the RFID wristband you receive at check-in. Kids under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Feng Shui design and a range of kid-friendly treatment options to soothe and revive at this European-style spa, which is located on the first floor and open to the public. Choices include preteen manicures and pedicures, as well as special "Mommy and Me" and "Daddy and Me" packages.
Conserve cash by bringing along snacks and a supply of water -- the latter is a necessity when visiting the indoor water park. Since all accommodations contain cooking facilities, it's easy to save money by preparing a few meals in your room. Limited groceries are available at Evergreen Gift Shop. For a wider selection, stop at P & C Foods or Tops Market in Cortland.
The Art of Smart Timing
Ski season is prime time at this four-season resort, with winter school breaks and weekends among the most popular times to visit. The water park is busiest from 5 p.m. to closing in the winter, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in summer. Be sure to note the water park schedule before planning a visit -- the facility is open later on Fridays and Saturdays, but closes early on Sundays. Other times you can find lots of company at the lodge, as well as during holidays when the resort expands its array of family-friendly activities.
Weatherwise, the summer and early fall are best, with temperatures often reaching into the 80s. To beat the crowds, consider a mid-week visit in late spring or fall. Try to avoid spring breaks and other days when the kids are out of school, as the resort (and the water park) can be bedlam. You might particularly enjoy the water park in winter when it will put a nice tropical vacation twist on your skiing vacation.
A popular drive-to destination from a number of metropolitan areas, the resort is around 200 miles from New York City and Philadelphia, 270 miles from Baltimore and Toronto and 310 miles from Washington, DC. If you're flying, Syracuse International Airport, about one-hour away, is the largest in the area, though Ithaca, only 18-miles away, has a small airport that may be an option.
Parking and valet service are complimentary and free shuttles to Greek Peak are provided, but most likely you'll want a car to get you there.
For Mom and Dad
The Hope Lake Lodge's spa, Waterfalls, offers a slate of the typical massages and facials. Consider booking a suite for a few hours of pampering for you and your mate or take a soak in the indoor/outdoor hot tub with a frozen drink.
On property, the hotel's bar, Bobcat Lounge, provides the most "grown-up" dining potential, with a menu of cocktails and drinks, although it's located in the lobby where many kids' programs are also held.